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Burger King hats became a symbol of protest at a recent 1-hour student strike and demonstration at a Portland, Ore., high school.

About 70 students marched to the school office Oct. 17 to discuss their unhappiness about a number of ethnic slights they said they have suffered. And they wore paper Burger King hats they claimed Wilson High School had banned.

A black girl at the demonstration said several black students had worn the same hats on campus a week earlier. She said school officials thought the hats were gang-related apparel that could not be worn on campus, but a school spokesman disputed that.

The school mentioned the hats in the school bulletin, but "the message said they didn't add to the atmosphere of an educational institution and advised students not to wear them in school," said a school spokesman. "It said the hats are appropriate for 10-year-olds, not high school kids."

School administrators had no idea why the students decided to wear the Burger King hats during the demonstration, said a spokesman in the principal's office.

At the Burger King outlet nearest the school, Manager Les Stout said he didn't even know the hats had been taken by the students.

"We have hundreds of them. They are on the counter. We have them available for little kids. We didn't know they were gone."

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