11-year-old arrested at Florida school after refusing to stand for pledge of allegiance defends himself
According to Vox, an 11-year-old Florida boy got arrested after refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in class. The child got into an argument with his substitute teacher earlier this month when he did not stand for the pledge with classmates at Lakeland, Florida’s Lawton Chiles Middle Academy. After he told the teacher that the American flag is racist, she gave him an argument straight out of the Fox News playbook, asking him, “Why if it was so bad here, he did not go to another place to live” according to the affidavit report. The child replied, ” They brought me here.”
The teacher then allegedly told the child, “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.” After this exchange, she called the school office. He was then taken to a juvenile detention facility, charged with disrupting a school event, resisting arrest without violence, and was also suspended from school for three days.
The official arrest affidavit claims that the boy was “disruptive, didn’t follow commands, called school staff racist, and threatened to get the school resource officer and principal fired and to beat the teacher.” However, the child told Bay News 9 that he did not threaten the teacher with any violence.
An anonymous school spokesperson told Yahoo that the students aren’t required to recite the pledge in class, but the substitute was not aware of this policy and “will no longer be allowed to substitute at any of our schools.” Dhakira Talbot, the mother of the child, told Vox that she was disappointed with the way that the school handled the situation and that her son should not have been arrested. “My son has never been through anything like this,” Talbot said. “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. I want the charges dropped and I want the school to be held accountable for what happened because it shouldn’t have been handled the way it was handled.”
Talbot’s critique of her son being arrested is a fair one, given how disproportionately Black children are punished by both the school system and the criminal justice system. According to research conducted by Matthew T. Theriot, a researcher at the Justice Policy Institute, merely having a school resource officer on school grounds increases the likelihood that a student will be arrested by nearly five times.
It should also be noted that these types of arrests do not result in a reduction of infractions.