A Black child was forced to endure the criminal justice system for exercising his First Amendment rights. The 11-year-old student at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy was arrested after he refused to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance, according to The Washington Post.
The incident occurred on the morning of Feb. 4 when a substitute teacher argued with the child because he refused to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. The teacher, who has yet to be identified, reportedly told the student, “Why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live.” The boy replied by telling the teacher, “They brought me here.”
The teacher responded by saying, “Well, you can always go back because I came here from Cuba and the day I feel I’m not welcome here any more I would find another place to live.”
The substitute teacher apparently ignored history or failed to comprehend how the American slave trade robbed Africans of their identities the moment they were forced onto slave ships.
Instead of teaching the class, the substitute teacher called school officials who allegedly attempted to make the child leave the classroom. The school decided to turn it into a criminal case by calling the police.
The student was charged with disruption of a school facility and resisting an officer without violence.
Polk County Public Schools spokesman Kyle Kennedy issued a statement that said students are not required to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance and can opt-out with authorization from a parent.
The child’s mother, Dhakira Talbot, was interviewed by Bay News 9 and did not reveal if she will file a lawsuit against the school.