11-year-old arrested after refusing to stand for Pledge of Allegiance

Boy reportedly called flag 'racist'


LAKELAND, Fla. – A Lakeland middle school student was arrested earlier this month when he became "disruptive" after refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Bay News 9 reports that a substitute teacher ordered the 11-year-old boy to stand for the pledge. The boy reportedly responded by telling the teacher that the flag was racist and the national anthem was offensive to black people, according to the news station.

The teacher reportedly asked the boy why he did not go to another place to live if the US was so bad. Reports said the boy responded with "They brought me here."

Polk County Public Schools spokesman Kyle Kennedy said the arrest came after the boy became "disruptive and (refused) to follow repeated instructions by school staff and law enforcement," reports said.

Kennedy said the middle schooler was not arrested for not participating in the pledge. The substitute teacher reportedly did not know that students have the right to refuse to participate.

The boy was charged with disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence, The Ledger reports.

Bay News 9 reports that the boy's arrest affidavit said the boy threatened to "get the school resource officer and principal fired and to beat the teacher." He said that was untrue when the station interviewed both him and his mother, Dhakira Talbot.

"I'm upset. I'm angry. I'm hurt," Talbot told Bay News 9. "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." 

The substitute teacher has been suspended from teaching in the district. The student and his mother are working  with the Poor and Minority Justice Association to pursue possible legal action.