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6th Grader Arrested After Refusing to Stand for Pledge of Allegiance

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The controversy over once revered acts of patriotism, such as standing for the National Anthem and saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school each day are now the signs of an ongoing culture war. Many say these acts represent everything wrong with the United States, and point to racism as well as police violence. Proponents say the acts bring us together as Americans and help move the country to being the best it can be.

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Whatever side you fall on, there is no question that there have been some outrageous headlines over the last few months, including this one.

According to reports, an 11 year old sixth grade student has been arrested for disrupting school. The entire incident can be traced back to the student refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

According to a Patch.com article, the incident began when a substitute teacher was unaware of the school’s policy on standing for the pledge:

The child, who was not identified, was later arrested by the Lakeland Police Department after “becoming disruptive and refusing to follow repeated instructions” by school staff and law enforcement, according to Kyle Kennedy of Polk County Public Schools.

“To be clear, students are not required to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance,” Kennedy said. “Unfortunately, a substitute teacher was not aware of this.”

Kennedy said Friday that the incident led to an argument between the substitute teacher and the child, who didn’t wish to participate.

“The student became disruptive and the teacher contacted school administrators for assistance,” Kennedy explained. “The school’s resource deputy also became involved.”

The substitute teacher was eventually dismissed and barred from the school for their role in the incident.

The student’s mother, Dhakira Talbot, told Bay 9 News:

“I’m upset, I’m angry. I’m hurt,” she said. “More so for my son. My son has never been through anything like this. I feel like this should’ve been handled differently. If any disciplinary action should’ve been taken, it should’ve been with the school. He shouldn’t have been arrested.”

Most recently, standing for the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance was popularized by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick (below).

According to the Bay 9 News report, it appears race was a key motivating factor in the incident, with the student saying the flag itself was racist:

In a statement to the district, the substitute teacher reported telling the 11-year-old boy “Why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live.” She said he then said, “they brought me here.”

She said she replied by saying, “Well you can always go back, because I came here from Cuba and the day I feel I’m not welcome here anymore I would find another place to live.”

She wrote, “Then I had to call the office because I did not want to continue dealing with him.”

At that point, the student continued to be disruptive and was eventually taken into custody by the school’s resource officer.

The following video report includes an interview with the boy’s mother, who is distraught over the incident.