Saturday, July 13

Ever Lopez Receives Diploma, But Situation Puts Spot Light On Immigration

ASHEBORO NC – Just after 11 AM on Monday, June 7th, Ever Lopez walked out of a meeting with principal Crooks at Asheboro High School, diploma in hand.

Just after 11 AM on Monday, June 7th, Ever Lopez walked out of a meeting with principal Crooks at Asheboro High School, diploma in hand [Scott Pelkey / Acme News]

“I’m grateful, I got what I deserved like my mom said, it’s not just mine, it’s everybody’s, the whole community that had my back,” said Lopez at a press conference.

The diploma was available to be picked up Friday, but the family said they waited as they discussed the option of taking legal action against the school. Ultimately they decided to pick up the diploma Monday, along with the involvement of activists, community advocates, supporters, and members of the press.

When asked if he felt the situation would have happened if it was an American flag, Lopez said “yes and no, I feel that every flag is the same, we all get to represent what we want, but we all have different opinions on what things are, so I feel like it would of played out the same.”

Sunday night, the Asheboro Police department said they were investigating at least 10 separate threats against the school and its employees. Three of those threats were against Dr. Crooks, the principal of Asheboro High School. “We addressed those threats, and we told her we are going to be shoulder to shoulder with her, because that’s not right, its one thing to support, but threats and all that, no”, said Lopez.

After finally receiving his diploma Monday Ever Lopez held a press conference with his parents at Asheboro High School. [Scott Pelkey / Acme News]

While the controversy may have died down, the incident has put a spotlight on the tension around immigration and racial issues in the community. Shortly after the press conference, a man in a pickup drove by, blew his horn, and yelled: “Go back to your country” out of his window to a group of children standing on the sidewalk holding Mexican flags.

Dozens of comments on social media called for Lopez and his family to “Go back to Mexico”. “What happened to Ever did not occur in a vacuum but rather in an environment where people feel comfortable stopping in the street and insulting strangers,” said Juan Miranda, Director of Siembra NC, a Latinx grassroots organization. “Whether intended or not, in a context where politicians, institutions, and people in the street are constantly telling us “you don’t belong here” or “shut up and take the abuse”, what happened in Asheboro means a lot more than a dress code policy and Ever Lopez response to the situation shows that speaking up and organizing with your community is the path to change such context.”

Members of Siembra NC were present at Monday’s press conference, where they mentioned comments made in a post by Erick Hicks calling for federal immigration agents to come to the protests being held for Lopez, along with the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office 287(g) agreement, which permits deputies to act as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Following the press conference, Lopez said he was glad the whole thing was over but that he would keep up the fight for his heritage and his people. It now seems likely that immigration will be a hot-button issue for the upcoming 2022 race for Sheriff.