Second-Graders' Ferguson Protest Sparks Controversy

PHOTO: Students at Alma Del Mar Charter School in New Bedford, Mass., protested the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, Dec, 12, 2014. Google Maps
Students at Alma Del Mar Charter School in New Bedford, Mass., protested the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, Dec, 12, 2014.

A protest put on by a group of second-graders in Massachusetts has sparked controversy, but the school says it was just teaching the kids a lesson in civics.

The peaceful demonstration happened on Friday, a spokesperson for the Alma del Mar Charter School in New Bedford told ABC News today. Second-graders gathered in front of the school with signs, some that said "Honk For Justice," after learning about the deaths of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, both at the hands of police officers.

"A group of scholars played on the playground while other scholars held their demonstration without incident," Will Gardner, the school's executive director, said today in a statement.

But the protest went awry when a friend of a police officer, whose daughter attends the school, saw the students and alerted him that his 7-year-old daughter was taking part, the spokesman said.

That father, George Borden, told The Boston Globe he believed the event was anti-police and shouldn't be condoned by the school. While Alma del Mar says the protest was the students' idea, Borden disagrees.

"I don't think 7-year-olds can come up with the idea to go out and protest on the street," he told the newspaper.

ABC News could not reach Borden for comment, but Borden's father, who is also named George, said he agrees with his son.

"What second grader wants to give up recess to go stand on a busy street corner and chant, 'We want justice'?" he said. "My son's a cop, so he's really upset, and after his daughter got in the car, she asked if he shoots people."

The school says it sent students home with a note before the lesson about Garner and Brown, to give parents the chance to opt out. The protest, which was not mentioned in the statement, was an idea the students came up with in class, the school spokesman said.

"We have spoken with the concerned officer and his family on several occasions and he has agreed to meet with both the teacher and school administrators to discuss his concerns and come up with productive next steps," Will Gardner said in the statement.