11-year-old arrested in Florida for refusing to stand during Pledge of Allegiance

An 11-year-old Florida student has been arrested for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and allegedly telling a teacher “the flag is racist and the national anthem is offensive to black people.”

According to Bay News 9, the boy was a student at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, Florida. He was charged with disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence:

“The sixth grader was arrested and taken to a juvenile detention center, charged with disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence.

“The student’s mother, Dhakira Talbot, said her son is in gifted classes and has been bullied at the school in the past”:

“I’m upset, I’m angry. 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.”

The incident, which took place on February 4, began when a substitute teacher asked the boy to stand for the pledge:

“In a statement to the district, the substitute teacher reported telling the 11-year-old boy ‘Why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live.’ She said he then said, ‘they brought me here.’

“She said she 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.'”

According to arrest records, school leaders are alleging that the boy threatened them:

“The student was arrested by the school resource officer because he refused to follow multiple commands, repeatedly called school leaders racist and was disruptive. They said he threatened to get the school resource officer and principal fired and to beat the teacher.”

Ms. Talbot said she wants the charges against her son dropped and has contacted the Poor and Minority Justice Association for legal advice:

“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.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette that requiring students to stand for the pledge is a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

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