Last week, a Blue Island, Illinois 15-year-old was punished for refusing to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance.
According to a Sept. 2 report by Chicago’s WGN News, Eisenhower High School student Shemar Cooper refused to stand for the pledge in protest of police brutality. This was days before San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick’s protest.
“America doesn’t respect Blacks,” Shemar tells WGN News. “Until they stop killing us, I’m not going to stand up.”
While in his Spanish class on Aug. 26, Shemar’s refusal to stand drew the ire of his teacher, Ms. Alfano.
She reportedly came over to him and insisted that he participate. However, the young man continued to sit.
Alfano reportedly asked him why he did not stand and he told her that “America sucks.”
After finding out about the incident, his mother Kelley Porter-Turner made him apologize for his words but not for protesting.
Shemar claims his Spanish teacher continued to harass him throughout last week.
Last Tuesday, Shemar continued his protest. This time he says Alfano tried to force him out of his seat. Two days later, he said he was pulled out of his seat and punished for sitting.
“But to literally try to force my son out of the chair, that is against the law,” Porter-Turner told WBBM. “He sees the news, he sees what’s going on with Black kids.”
WGN reports that Shemar’s mother has told Blue Island Police about the incident and she wants charges filed against Alfano.
“We don’t hate America,” Porter-Turner explains. “It’s the behaviors that are put out from some of the people towards Black people that we disapprove of.”
In the news clip, the woman says that her father served during World War II. However, she says that her son has a right to sit and she is proud of him for doing it.
Last week, the school released a statement:
“Eisenhower High School takes any allegations of violations of students rights seriously. We respect students’ First Amendment right to not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Now, the high school has launched an investigation into the recurring incidents.