An 11-year-old Black student in Florida was arrested earlier this month for refusing to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance because it was racist, he said.
The Lawton Chiles Middle Academy student was taken to a juvenile detention center, and charged with disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence, Bay News9 reports.
He was also suspended from the school for three days.
The incident began when the boy was asked by a substitute teacher to stand during the pledge, and he refused. His reasons were that the flag was racist and the national anthem was offensive to Black people.
In a statement to the district, the substitute teacher reportedly asked the child, “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.”
The substitute teacher said 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 school district later confirmed that students are not required to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
The boy’s mother is angry with the school’s decision and says her son has been bullied since joining his gifted class.
“I’m upset, I’m angry. I’m hurt,” said the child’s mother Dhakira Talbot, who is now working with the Poor and Minority Justice Association on her son’s arrest. “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.”
“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,” she said.
The school district says the substitute teacher will no longer be able to work at any of the district’s schools while they look into the matter.