An 11-year-old boy was arrested and sent to a juvenile detention center for reportedly refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. According to Bay 9 News, the 6th grader was arrested at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland on February 4. The incident happened with a substitute teacher in the classroom. According to the arrest warrant, the boy was charged with disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence.
Reports indicate that the 11-year-old said he would not stand for the pledge because he believed the flag to be racist and the national anthem was offensive to black people. He and the sub then got into a conversation—in which the sub asked him “why he didn’t go back to where he came from if he didn’t like the way he was treated here.”
The student reportedly replied saying “they brought me here.” She then replied by saying, “Well you can always go back, because I came here from Cuba and the day I feel I’m not welcome here anymore I would find another place to live.”
The sub teacher then called the office to send someone to get the boy because she “didn’t want to deal with him anymore.”
The student was then arrested by the school resource officer, stating that he refused to follow multiple commands, repeatedly called school leaders racist and was disruptive, and apparently threatened the substitute teacher. Later, the boy stated he never threatened violence of any kind.
After being contacted, a spokeswoman with the school district said “students aren’t required to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance,” yet, stated that because the teacher was a substitute, she was unaware of the policy. They also stated that the teacher will no longer be working in the district, and they will look into the matter.
However, the boy’s mother is angry and working with a small justice organization to press charges against the school, now that her 11-year-old son has a record and a 3-day suspension from school.
“I’m upset, I’m angry. I’m hurt,” said Dhakira Talbot, the boy’s mother.
“More so for my son. My son has never been through anything like this. I feel like this should’ve been handled differently. If any disciplinary action should’ve been taken, it should’ve been with the school. He shouldn’t have been arrested.”
Many people on Twitter have spoken out about the incident, saying that arresting an 11-year-old for refusing to say the pledge was one step further towards a fascist America. Others stated that under the 1st Amendment, students do not have to stand and recite the pledge. And, others stated that this was clear racial bias by the teacher because the boy is black.
an 11 year old black boy was arrested at school for opting out of reciting the pledge of allegiance.— avalon fenster 🌻 (@avzfen) February 17, 2019
let that sink in.
he was arrested. at school. for expressing to his substitute teacher. that he did not feel comfortable. reciting the pledge.
LET THAT SINK IN.
There is copious amounts of research about teacher bias against black boys especially - this can’t keep happening. This child deserves so much more than this. This breaks my heart!— Allison McDonald (@NoFlashCards) February 18, 2019
So basically an 11 year old black kid was arrested for expressing his 1st amendment rights?— Super_Mario (@Toad_Plumber_27) February 18, 2019
Fascism....— Jason HustleHoff (@JasonHustleHoff) February 18, 2019
Compelled speech is not a requirement ever since the First Amendment was added— KSelk (@ecrire831) February 17, 2019
Neither the Pledge nor dis obedience are grounds for arrest.. Sue the teacher and the School and the cops if you have to.— Dallas (@dallasrbaird) February 17, 2019
A real teacher would ask WHY he felt the Pledge of Allegiance was racist. Dig into the details- where did he get this notion? Why does he feel this way? Instead, just take to juvenile detention and punish. WTF??— JFly (@JFly619) February 17, 2019
I don’t know who to start with, the teacher, principal or the arresting officers🤦🏾♀️ someone could have stopped this and no one did. Hopefully the teacher, principal AND assistant principal all lose their jobs!— Rachel (@DianeRaya) February 17, 2019
As an educator you have to be mindful of why a kid might not stand:— myboyBC♠️ (@Thegoddambatma2) February 17, 2019
2) parents told him/her
3) possible personal belief
All it takes is a conversation to find out why.
Why are Blacks so often treated like second class citizens.But when they stand up for rights given to them under the constitution.They are either arrested, killed, or told to go back where they came from. I could've sworn the pledge of allegiance said justice for all And not some— Darriel B (@b_darriel) February 18, 2019
I knew it! The child is a black boy in gifted education. So the racist school had to find something to discredit this child and somehow affect his future. https://t.co/tlKbNKkKjH— ChiTown♌Lioness (@Blk_Cat713) February 18, 2019
As an English teacher myself in New York City, I know that my students are not required to say the pledge. Instead, I ask them to respect those who do wish to recite by staying quiet during those few moments. However, I would never force someone to do something, nor have them arrested for not doing it. There is no law that states we are required to recite the pledge, and there are a plethora of reasons a student may decide otherwise. As an educator, I would rather have my students stand by their beliefs rather than conform to something they do not believe in just because someone told them to.
h/t: Bay 9 News.