A California mother says she believes her 7-year-old son’s race was a factor when his elementary school called the sheriff’s department after a white peer, who’d reportedly been bullying the child, falsely accused him of having a gun in his backpack.
Thea-Marie Perkins is disturbed that six deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department questioned her son Soloman without her consent at Tesoro del Valle Elementary School on Feb. 13.
Perkins told KTLA that a white student falsely reported that Solomon had a gun in his backpack. She said Soloman was not “packing” and instead his backpack was filled to the brim with Valentine’s Day love cards for his fellow classmates.
The distraught mother took to Twitter to complain saying, “What would you do? A 7yr old child falsely accused of felony possession of a weapon by another child. Admin checks the child’s backpack and sees over 20 valentines love cards to his class, the principal still proceeds to call the sheriffs department, not 1 but 6 sheriffs…”
Perkins said the ordeal began when Soloman and his classmates were led outside the school during a fire drill. Soloman then reportedly started chatting with the boy who then ran off and told a teacher that Soloman had a gun in his backpack. But it’s not clear if Soloman was carrying his bookbag at the time.
According to Perkins, the student had been bullying her son, who has special learning needs that require an individualized education plan.
Once the accuser alerted the teacher, the school’s principal was called over and Soloman’s backpack was searched. During the search, dozens of Valentine’s Day cards were found. Perkins said her son admitted to having a Nerf slingshot, which catapults foam darts through the air. But no real weapon was recovered.
“My son said that he had a Nerf slingshot,” Perkins said. “My child is not allowed to play with weapons, nor is he allowed to play with guns. They’re not anywhere in the house.”
Still, the principal reportedly called sheriff’s department, with deputies questioning Soloman without the mother present. Perkins said she was not notified of what was occurring until later on when she received a call from a staff member that Soloman was being detained.
“They had already violated my civil rights. They violated my son’s civil rights. They sequestered him. They questioned him without me,” she said.
As part of Soloman’s education plan, a paraprofessional is supposed to accompany him and be at his side while in class, according to the mom. But Perkins said the parapro was talking to the teacher when the harrowing ordeal went down.
The school, Perkins said, is predominately white and she feels slighted by how they handled her Black son by believing what the white student alleged.
“I’m insulted. I’m offended. I’ve been disrespected. My civil rights have been violated,” Perkins said. “I can’t tolerate this. It has to stop.”
The school alerted parents by sending out a note about what occurred saying: “As many of you may be aware we have had law enforcement on campus today. All of our students are safe and the school day is progressing as normal.”
Perkins said she intends to keep pressing the Saugus Union School District to own up to the fact that her son did nothing wrong and she wants them to clear up his name.