Ian Heye, Staff Writer
On Feb. 17, a sixth-grader at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Florida was arrested for disruption of a school facility and resisting arrest without violence. However, the story is more complicated than what the arrest notes.
The events that led to the arrest began when the student decided not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance saying that he thought the flag was racist. The substitute teacher of his class, Ana Alvarez, responded by asking “if it was so bad, why don’t you leave?” The student responded by saying “They brought me here,” a very well thought out answer might I add. The situation escalated and Alvarez called the school’s office, the student yelled at school officials and the school resource officer decided to conduct an arrest.
The question here is who to blame; the student or Alvarez? Let’s look at it from the school’s point of view first.
The school saw a student being disruptive to class and, when he was arrested, the student yelled the school was racist and made threatening remarks to the officer. The substitute saw a student doing something she thought was apparently wrong and didn’t want to deal with the issue, and you can’t blame her. Everyone who has been to a middle school knows that middle schoolers have the worst behavior. So, since she didn’t want to deal with the issue, she called the school’s office.
But what about the student’s point of view? The student didn’t want to stand for something he didn’t believe in or support. The student was vocal during the incident that the flag was racist and that statement he made implies why would he stand for something he doesn’t believe in? Additionally, the supreme court case of West Virginia State Board of Education v Barnette state that schools cannot force or require students to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Now looking back at the points of view from each side, the person to blame is the teacher. The entire incident began when the teacher overstepped her boundary when she called the office to deal with the student when all he did was use his constitutional right. If the teacher hadn’t said anything to the student, the day would’ve gone on without a problem. Also, the teacher acted immaturely to the student asking him a question like “Well if you don’t like it here, why don’t you leave?” The student isn’t leaving because he’s 11 or 12 years old. Even if the teacher meant that as a joke, she still did not need to call school officials down to the classroom.
And as for the arrest of the student that decision was completely racist. At my high school, there was a student who, at different points in the year, yelled the N-word in his gym class and even broke a door’s window knocking on it. Despite both of those incidents, he was not arrested for violating a school function. But the student in Florida who didn’t stand during the Pledge was arrested. That is racism. Just like the case of 21 Savage’s arrest by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; if the student was white, the news would be looking significantly different.