On Day 4 of the President Trump piñata crisis, Roosevelt High School had to be shut down over a security threat, and tight-lipped school district officials began referring reporters to police.
“We’re not doing any other comments about the piñata,” an assistant superintendent of the Johnstown, Colo., school told The Washington Post on Monday.
But comments about the piñata had already been made. The president’s image had already been smashed on school grounds. And it seemed that nothing in this Colorado school system could be put back as it was.
Day 1, Cinco de Mayo:
The piñata swings freely from a tree outside the high school in Johnstown. It’s a pudgy, star-shaped thing, with no political significance discernible in amateur video.
A blindfolded boy swings wildly with a stick. A girl knocks it to the grass and beats it ferociously.
“From a distance, nothing seems to be wrong,” a reporter for ABC 7 Denver observed.
But look closer. There, in a leaked Snapchat, in the middle of the piñata’s green belly, above a tears-of-joy emoji, is the smiling face of Trump.
— Dillon Thomas (@DillonMThomas) May 7, 2017
“There are multiple videos of this all over various students’ social media accounts,” parent Lesley Hollwood wrote on Facebook that night, expressing concern about the images while sharing them. Hollwood said she didn’t know whether the teacher had come up with the idea or had just allowed the students to do it. She said she’d be just as upset if a picture of President Barack Obama, George W. Bush or Bill Clinton had been whacked on school property.
“It’s really unbelievable,” Hollwood wrote. “Especially right here in little ol’ Johnstown, Colorado (a town which is honestly fairly conservative).”
Day 2, Saturday:
The subject of Trump, who has made immigration enforcement a cornerstone of his administration, has a habit of disrupting classrooms. (See, for example, the California college professor who was called Trump’s election victory an “act of terrorism,” leading to months of national spectacle.)
In Colorado, the district’s late-night announcement was severe and to the point.
“It has come to the attention of the Weld County School District RE-5J Johnston-Milliken leadership that … during a Spanish class at Roosevelt high school, President Donald John Trump’s picture was placed on a piñata,” officials wrote on Facebook. The Spanish teacher had been placed on paid leave pending an investigation.
The school district listed the evidence to date: “Facebook photos show the piñata, the piñata tied to a tree, and a student with a bat in hand near the piñata.”
It did not mention videos of the ensuing violence.
“This was an incredibly disrespectful act,” schools superintendent Martin Foster wrote.
Beneath his words, a very long chain of Facebook comments grew through the night.
“Lol,” read the first.
“Boo!” read the second.
“OH MY GOD,” someone wrote just before midnight.
Day 3, Sunday:
“Why divide people? Why do this?” Hollwood asked on CBS 4, after complaining about the piñata incident to the school district.
“More indoctrination from the filthy left,” someone wrote on Facebook, as parents, students and residents passionately debated the teacher’s role in the incident and subsequent suspension. “Fire this ignorant teacher for inciting violence against our POTUS.”
Counter: “Um … This is genius. This teacher deserves a medal.”
“What’s happening nowadays is part of the last days like the Bible says,” someone else observed.
A social comment was referred to police as a potential threat against the school. Early Monday morning, announcements went out that class would be canceled at Roosevelt High in the wake of the Cinco de Mayo Trump piñata.
Day 4, Monday
The Spanish teacher had not been identified by the school district, though parents may have figured out who is was, and a local news crew unsuccessfully paid a visit to his home. (The Washington Post couldn’t reach the teacher for comment.)
Not only were classes canceled, Foster wrote in the morning, but after-school activities were also postponed, as authorities tried to “assess the credibility of the threat and ensure the safety of our students.” Foster did not say what the threat entailed, and district officials wouldn’t provide any details to The Post.
But later Monday, in yet another announcement, the superintendent gave the all clear. Police had concluded “any presumption of a threat was based on rumor,” Foster said.
So, classes would resume on Tuesday, the fifth day of the piñata fiasco, though with “increased law enforcement presence … to show support for our students and our community’s commitment to ensuring their safety,” the superintendent said.
And in this warier post-Cinco de Mayo world, school officials would begin a formal investigation of the piñata at the center of all the chaos.
The original version of this story incorrectly attributed all of the school district’s Saturday statement on Facebook to the superintendent. It has been corrected.