In a tale as old as time, a white man accused three Black teenagers of committing a crime without offering proof. In this instance, a white couple in a pickup truck surveilled and took photos of three Black teens riding their bikes from CVS Pharmacy to Walgreens in the Beech Grove suburb outside of Indianapolis, Indiana.
Rick Skirvin, who’s been a member of the school board of Beech Grove City Schools for almost 17 years, was driving the truck that day in mid-August. Skirvin was not content just to take photos; he accused the teens of shoplifting. Although neither store called the authorities to report them for stealing, “their photos landed on the desk of the superintendent of Beech Grove City Schools,” reports the IndyStar.
Given the dangerous history in this country of Blacks who have been found suffering from severe injuries or even death following a false accusation, the teens’ parents were outraged. On September 12, each of the teens’ mothers attended the Beech Grove City Schools board meeting to call out the danger of Skirvin’s actions.
“A board member abused his power and reported the boys to the school for disciplinary action with no proof that they did anything wrong,” said Kelly Herron, one of the parents.
Herron added, “This was unacceptable and unnecessary…Our boys have now been introduced to what it feels like to be profiled and falsely accused.”
Another parent, Peter Lee was also understandably furious, questioning “How many times does this go wrong?”
Lee said, “Every time an accusation is made against African Americans, we’re always guilty ’till proven innocent. America is going through a great bundle of hell because of the injustice it renders.”
Skirvin’s stance is that this is all “a horrible stink over nothing.” He alleges that “[t]he lady behind the cash register told me they had taken some candy.” Although Skirvin did confirm that he did not witness the crime being committed.
Skirvin spoke with IndyStar, relaying “What I said [to the superintendent] was, ‘A Walgreens associate said she had seen the boys take candy. Can we look into it and talk to them?’” “I felt that it was a minor crime and it wasn’t big enough to get the police involved and have kids with criminal records. I just wanted them spoken to, so that they would know that the community is watching,” Skirvin continued.
During the September meeting, the mothers have asked the district to investigate in addition to demanding Skirvin’s resignation.
Last week, Skirvin voiced that he had no plans to resign. “I was very disappointed,” he stated. “I’ve spent my entire adult life mentoring kids from every walk of life. I am not what these parents say I am.”
Dr. Laura Hammack, superintendent of Beech Grove City Schools, reportedly said that board cannot remove members but maintains the authority to censure, which is “a formal statement of disapproval that carries with it no other penalties,” IndyStar reports.
After the meeting, the board convened for an additional hour in a closed session. But there has been no public statement issued about the incident.