On February 4, 2019, an 11-year-old Black student at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, FL was arrested after exercising his First Amendment right to freedom of speech by refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and acknowledging America’s history of racial oppression. This is yet another example of schools criminalizing students of color who choose to stand up for their rights which is tied to a long history of suppressing student voice through use of law enforcement.
Take a stand now and sign this petition demanding that the Polk County School Board allow the student return to school, and hold the police officer and school accountable be for this abuse of trust and authority.
Police in schools do not make schools safer. Instead, their presence places students of color, undocumented youth and children with disabilities at risk. Young people need highly qualified teachers, counselors and programs that support them, not police.
Stand with us in demanding that:
• The charges against this student and three-day suspension be dropped;
• The police officer be removed from the school; and
• The school be held accountable for this abuse of trust and authority.