An unidentified sixth-grade boy was arrested in Florida after he refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy on Feb. 4,
The 11-year-old student allegedly called the American flag and school leaders racist and claimed the national anthem was offensive. Bay News 9, a local news outlet, reported that the incident escalated into a confrontation between the child, school officials and officers from the Lakeland Police Department.
The boy was charged with disrupting a school function and resisting an officer without violence.
According to a statement from the school district, the substitute teacher, Ana Alvarez, asked the student, “Why if it was so bad here [you] did not go to another place to live?” The boy replied, “They brought me here,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez involved the school’s office because she did not want to continue in engaging with the 11-year-old.
When the school resource officer went to the classroom, the boy reportedly refused to listen to several commands. He also allegedly threatened to harm Alvarez and get the officer and principal fired for the matter.
The student’s mother, Dhakira Talbot, denied the allegations made against her son. She also told Bay News 9 that the teacher was wrong.
“She was wrong. She was way out of place,” Talbot said. “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.”
Kyle Kennedy, a spokesperson for Lawton Chiles, said students are not required to partake in the Pledge of Alliance. Alvarez was not aware of the policy and will no longer work at the middle school, according to the Ledger.
The Lakeland Police clarified that the young student was not arrested for protesting the Pledge of Alliance. “This arrest was based on the student’s choice to disrupt the classroom, make threats and resisting the officer’s efforts to leave the classroom,” a statement read.
Talbot wants the charges made against her son dropped “because it shouldn’t have been handled the way it was handled.”
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.