Black 7th Grader Busted For Criminal Possession Of Toy Gun In Own Home
I hate guns, so obviously I don't want my son around them. This includes the toy versions. I don't like any “game" where you're pretending to kill someone. I hate hearing children make shooting sounds. Batman's batarang can disarm punks with guns. The Doctor's screwdriver doesn't kill, doesn't wound, doesn't maim, and is very good at opening doors. But guns can only destroy.
There's also the reality that there's no such thing as a “toy" gun in the hands of a Black child. Tamir Rice was murdered because he was playing with a toy gun in a public park. And so many white liberals on Facebook were suddenly lamenting that Rice was allowed to play publicly with the same “toy" their kids have.
Isaiah Elliott, a Black seventh grader in Colorado, played with a toy gun and is lucky to be alive. That's the extent of his good fortune. His mother, Dani, was at work when the vice principal at Grand Mountain School in Colorado Springs called to inform her that a police officer was on the way to her house. Cops don't deliver pizzas to Black kids. They bring choke holds and bullets.
During the third day of distance learning last week, Isaiah's art teacher noticed him playing with a toy gun during class. He has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and was distracted, as opposed to homicidal. The teacher figured the gun was fake but she still notified the vice principal, who instead of laughing at her, got a school resource officer involved. Guns make everything worse and the police don't do much better. They reviewed a recording of the class, and the cop who is conditioned to view everything a Black child does with suspicion claimed in a police report that Isaiah and another child had pointed the gun at the computer screen like they were common psychopaths or just kids playing Duck Hunt.
Both Isaiah and the other child received a five-day suspension, as well as a record with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. There's now a permanent mark on Isaiah's school disciplinary paperwork claiming he brought a "facsimile of a firearm to school." Of course, he wasn't technically in a school building. He was at his home. I don't think it's been made clear that children are required to remove all their potentially offending toys from their own room.
The toy is pained black and green with the words “Zombie Hunter" on it. That probably spooked the teacher, who might've assumed Isaiah is so deranged he thinks zombies are real. There's even the orange tip that toy guns are required to have. Not that it matters anyway if a Black child is playing with one.
From the Washington Post:
[Dani] Elliott lashed out at the school, arguing that it was irresponsible to call police given the frequency of police violence against Black people.
"With the cultural events going on right now, especially for young African Americans, you calling the police and telling them that he could have a gun, you put his life in jeopardy," Elliott said.
Yeah, they don't care, not about Isaiah's life, his future, or even his disability that would lead him to fiddle around with a nearby toy during class.
When they showed up at Isaiah's house, the police told his father, Curtis, that if he bought a toy gun to class, they could file criminal charges against him. They keep missing the point that Isaiah was not in school but at his own home. However, the police did relay information to Isaiah's father without shooting him in the back or anything, so good on them. That training is paying off.
Isaiah's father viewed the footage and believed it only showed the kid moving the gun from one side of the couch to the other ... sort of like someone with ADHD. But the freaked-out art teacher thought he was waving the gun around like he was auditioning for a Tarantino film.
The Elliots spoke to the school's vice principal, principal, and district superintendent. They "wouldn't budge on the suspension or disciplinary record," because zero tolerance policies are how you maintain the school to prison pipeline.
Isaiah was traumatized by the experience. [...] "He was in tears when the police came," Elliott said. "He was very scared. He said: 'Mommy, I had butterflies in my stomach. I was scared and thought I was going to jail.'"
Reason magazine even covered this story because libertarians hate public schools and this incident doesn't help their image. (We josh; Reason has been leading a one-mag-stand on police-"involved" shootings, particularly the home invasion kind that killed Breonna Taylor, forever.)
There are many reasons to oppose virtual learning as the new default for American public K-12 education: Perhaps most importantly, it neglects school's vital role as a form of daycare. But the opportunity for the state to invite itself into the home and make trouble for hard-working parents and innocent children is also a serious concern.
The author even concludes his piece with the rightwing fairy tale ending "They wisely decided to transfer him to a private or charter school."
I can't blame the Elliots for giving up on a public school run by idiots. I also don't trust schools that haven't yet cleansed themselves of a police presence. Nothing good comes from cops on school grounds. And no good comes from toy guns. If you give my son one, it's going in the trash.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).