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Sixth grader arrested after Pledge of Allegiance dispute

by Bridgette Babb - Copy Editor
Wed, Feb 27th 2019 01:25 pm
 The student felt his school was racist and that he shouldn't stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. The school called the cops and the young student was arrested for standing up for what he believes in. This was a demonstration of solidarity with former NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, who used to take a knee during the national anthem to raise awareness for injustices that occur in this country.
The student felt his school was racist and that he shouldn't stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. The school called the cops and the young student was arrested for standing up for what he believes in. This was a demonstration of solidarity with former NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, who used to take a knee during the national anthem to raise awareness for injustices that occur in this country.

A sixth grader in Tampa, Florida made headlines after he was arrested for refusing to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance at his school.

The incident happened on February 4 at the Lawton Chiles Middle Academy. The altercation was between the 11-year-old student and a substitute teacher, Ana Alvarez. According to Bay News 9, the student refused to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance, telling the substitute teacher the flag was racist and the national anthem was offensive to black people.

Alvarez did not seem to understand how the young black student felt and reportedly asked, “if it is so bad here, why don't you live somewhere else?” According to the Washington Post, his response was, “they brought me here.”

Alvarez then said, “well, you can always go back.” She told the student she was an immigrant from Cuba and that if the United States ever made her feel unwelcome, she would leave.

The substitute teacher wrote in an incident report that she called the office because she “didn't want to continue dealing with him.” Instead of having an open conversation and hearing the point of the student, she decided to try to silence him, which speaks volumes considering the situation.

Bay News 9 reported that the sixth grader was sent to a “juvenile detention center and charged with disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence.”

An affidavit stated the student was not removed for not saying the pledge, but rather for refusing to adhere to school safety as they tried to make him leave. The 11-year-old accused the school leaders of being racist, along with being disruptive.

“Suspend me!” the student said. “I don’t care. This school is racist.”

The student allegedly threatened to get the school resource officer and principal fired and to beat the teacher, an accusation he and mom Dhakira Talbot say is falsified.

The Washington Post reported Talbot saying her son was in gifted classes and that he had been bullied many times in the school.

“I’m upset, I’m angry,” Talbot said to Bay News 9. “I’m hurt, 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.”

Talbot felt the teacher had overstepped her boundaries and did not consider the consequences her actions would have on the young boy’s life.

She hopes that the justice system will drop all charges and hold the school accountable for the incident.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida stood up for the student, making a statement on Twitter.

“This is outrageous,” the group wrote on Twitter. “Students do not lose their First Amendment rights when they enter the schoolhouse gates. This is a prime example of the over-policing of black students in school.”

According to ABC7 News, the school district said students are not required to participate in reciting the pledge. They claimed the teacher did not know the policy, hence why this situation occured in the first place.

The school district reported that officials will look to improve training for substitute teachers and that Alvarez will no longer work in the district.

With all the controversy surrounding people of color feeling oppressed in this country, for an 11-year-old to be this socially aware is amazing.

The teacher had no right to try and silence a child that is more socially conscious than her.

Shame on the school officials as well, because even if she did not know the policy, they did. This is not the first time an African American student has gotten into legal issues for not reciting the pledge.

In 2017, a student in Houston, Texas was expelled for not standing during the pledge.

Then 17-year-old India Laundry refused to stand “because it goes against everything she believed in.”

The school claimed she was being radicalized by the Kaepernick situation that had transpired the year before, kicking her out without a warning.

Situations like these can make African Americans less trusting of this so called “American freedom.”

This Black History Month had more downfall for the black community than ever before, but until all races work together to educate each other on situations that matter, there will never be any growth.

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