Community rallies for arrested Vermilion Parish teacher

Community rallies for arrested Vermilion Parish teacher
(Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC)
(Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC)
(Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC)

ABBEVILLE, LA (KPLC) - Three days after the arrest of Vermilion Parish teacher Deyshia Hargrave, people gathered together to support her at a community rally in Abbeville Thursday.

"Today we're here to stand by her, and to call her friend, and to hope that all of this brings about some sort of positive change," said fellow teacher Jessica Riebel.

Widespread support for Deyshia Hargrave from other teachers could be felt in Abbeville Thursday afternoon.

The middle school teacher was arrested Monday after speaking out at a school board meeting, surprising many who knew her.

"I was shocked, and I heard myself say to Suzanne, 'They what?' " said Debbie Meaux, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators.

It created outrage in local leaders.

"As an elected official from here I feel the need to apologize," said Bob Hensgens, state representative for Vermilion Parish. "It should not have happened. Not coming from us."

But it also sparked change.

Wearing T-shirts and holding signs, they chanted "stand by Deyshia," until Hargrave took the stage.

"I have been taught to stand up for what is right even when doing that is difficult, and I will continue to work towards that," said Hargrave.

As Hargrave spoke to the crowd she pushed for change.

And by standing up in that meeting, and again Thursday, she's created a movement much larger than she ever expected.

"I want my students and my children to be proud of me and I want them to see past my handcuffs and my arrest, and I want change to come from this," said Hargrave.

The Louisiana Association of Educators has created a petition after what happened so they can keep the conversation going.

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