Sixth Grader Demonstrated His First Amendment Rights and Got Arrested for It

On Feb. 4, a sixth grader at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy was suspended and arrested for not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. Well, technically, he was arrested for “disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence.” After the child refused to stand because “The flag is racist and the national anthem is offensive to black people,” the substitute teacher, Ana Alvarez, told him to stand and then asked him, “Why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live?” Then she reportedly told the young boy to “Go back to Africa.” Then she resorted to calling the main office “Because [she] did not want to continue dealing with him.” The child was upset and started saying that she was racist and that because the school officials only wanted to take him in for questioning, they were also racist for not dealing with that comment.

The 11-year-old walked out of the classroom and started crying because of the team of officers seemingly plotting against him. The student also asked to call his mother. When he wasn’t allowed, he went to the guidance office. School Principal Brian Andrews took the student by his arms, telling him to calm down. The student told him that “I’m going to get you fired. I’m going to get all of you fired.” After wandering up and down the hallway yelling about how mistreated he was, the boy then got taken into police custody after school officials and police officers were “unable to calm him down.”

The child’s mom, Dhakira Talbot, was very upset about how this went down, “She was wrong. She was way out of place. If she felt like there was an issue with my son not standing for the flag, she should’ve resolved that in a way different manner than she did.” She also stated that “at least one other student wasn’t standing, and she didn’t understand why her son was singled out.” In tears, Talbot said, “I just want people to know that my son is not a monster, he is not a disrespectful kid. You standing up for yourself is not wrong …You don’t know that feeling of having to raise your kids on what to do if you’re stopped by police.”

Polk County District Officials have stated that Alvarez will no longer be hired as a substitute teacher in their county, and they also said that they will be reviewing their training policy with Kelly Services, the outside agency that handles hiring substitute teachers.

Kay Fields, the only black member of the Polk County school board, who also works at Girls Inc., a nonprofit that helps underprivileged girls with homework and social skills, states that “I just think it’s unfortunate, especially over the pledge … Times are different today,” Fields said. “If I had a girl at Girls Inc. who didn’t want to stand for the pledge, I wouldn’t make a big deal of it. I might pull her aside and talk with her about it to find out why and talk with her parents about it.”

Standing, or not standing, for the Pledge of Allegiance is your choice and your choice alone. If anyone questions that, or doesn’t believe you, tell them to look up the Supreme Court case of West Virginia State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, which ruled that it is your choice and the school board can’t do anything about it.


Courtesy: The Ledger