A Cop Forced a Black Boy to Stand During the Pledge at a VA Legislative Session July 11, 2019

A Cop Forced a Black Boy to Stand During the Pledge at a VA Legislative Session

On Tuesday, the GOP-majority legislature in Virginia ended a special legislative session discussing gun control without doing a damn thing. Because they’re Republicans. (The GOP’s edge in both chambers is razor thin, and Democrats have a solid chance of taking back control of the entire assembly this November, at least if progressives do the work and get people voting.)

I bring that up, though, for a different reason.

Dozens of young African Americans, members of a local Boys & Girls Club, were in the gallery to encourage lawmakers to take action on guns and witness the proceedings. When the Pledge of Allegiance was recited at the beginning of the session, one of the boys, Jae Hutchinson, chose to respectfully protest by remaining silent and seated.

According to statements made by observers, a white Capitol police officer physically forced Jae to stand by first tapping his shoulder, then pulling him up by his shirt. “In here, we stand,” she told him, clearly oblivious of the law.

Last night, I spoke with that boy’s mother, Monica, who offered more insight into the situation.

She was in the other chamber as this was happening, but she explained that Jae, who’s 16, protests the Pledge because he doesn’t believe we really have “liberty and justice for all” in this country.

He complied with the officer mostly because, as one of the older boys in the group, he didn’t want to create a scene or ruin his friends’ enjoyment of an important event. He definitely didn’t want to make the club look bad. Plus he figured his mom (who’s a local activist) could handle everything afterwards.

Still, he was frustrated by what happened. When he finally saw Monica later, he asked, “Mommy, do I not have rights anymore?”

Interestingly enough, said Monica, there were some pro-gun advocates in the same gallery who also remained seated during the Pledge. The reason is unclear — maybe they couldn’t for health reasons — but the cop never said anything to them.

One observer took a picture just moments after the incident. You can see the cop glaring at Jae, who’s in the bottom right, texting his mother about what just happened.

Monica told me she reached out to State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, who formally recognized the kids in the gallery, in the hopes that they could get an apology from the cop. Monica is optimistic that a sit-down with all parties will occur in the near future. Her hope is that the officer hears some of the stories from the kids in the club so that she understands why some of them protest the Pledge.

For now, the cop’s actions just show you why these protests are needed.

(via BlueVirginia. Thanks to Brian for the link)

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