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Young Florida Student Illegally Arrested For Refusing To Recite the Pledge of Allegiance

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The issue of being forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance (and/or the National Anthem) and civil rights issues has been an ongoing issue of late, but it recently came to a head in Florida when a middle school student (11 years old) was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for refusing to recite the Pledge in class, citing his belief that he felt the Pledge was racist. According to reports, the teacher responded that the student should then “go somewhere else,” and eventually, the police were involved.

The student was eventually charged by law enforcement for “disruption of a school facility” and “resisting an officer.” This issue, like others, involves how we as a society (or, more importantly, law enforcement when they decide to arrest people who are exercising their civil rights) draw the line between criminal/disorderly conduct and free speech/civil rights, and it is especially shocking to see it being played out with someone so young who clearly does not pose a threat to themselves or anyone else.

Pledge of Allegiance Is Not Only Voluntary, Many Have Fought To Have It Removed

First and foremost, it is very important to note that, by law, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is voluntary. Not only do state law and school district policy allow for a student to refuse to participate in the pledge, First Amendment rights prevent schools from students to both recite the pledge or even salute the flag. In fact, similarly to prayer being banned in public schools, there have been court battles over whether it should even be allowed in public schools because it contains the phrase “under God.” In this case, the teacher was reportedly unaware that students were not required to recite it, which then gave rise to the “disruption” that the school and police have cited to as an excuse to arrest the child. Given that the U.S. Supreme Court has held that schools cannot force or even coerce students into reciting the Pledge, the question here ultimately becomes: How can this child be charged with a misdemeanor when the law was violated by a teacher who tried to force him to recite it, and he was charged with “disruption” simply by failing to do what he was told?

Contact Our Florida Misdemeanor Defense Attorneys to Find Out More

If you or a loved one has been wrongly accused of committing a misdemeanor, you need to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away in order to ensure that your rights are protected. A charge like this can affect the rest of your life, even if you are a juvenile. Contact our West Palm Beach misdemeanor/criminal defense attorneys at the office of William Wallshein, P.A. today to find out how we can help.

Resources:

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=1000-1099/1003/Sections/1003.44.html

thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/430430-florida-sixth-grader-charged-after-confrontation-with-teacher

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