Kiera Wilmot, a 16 year old high school student made a bad judgement call and now she is kicked out of school and being charged as an adult for her science experiment gone wrong.
Read about it HERE.
Kiera Wilmot got good grades and had a perfect behavior record. She wasn’t the kind of kid you’d expect to find hauled away in handcuffs and expelled from school, but that’s exactly what happened after an attempt at a science project went horribly wrong.
When we talk about the criminalization of communities and people of color, especially African Americans and Latinos in America, we often talk about the criminal justice system in America that disproportionately targets those communities.Schools are often the major accomplices in making this system run with the school to prison pipeline. Nothing exemplifies this more than what is happening to 16 year old Kiera Wilmot in Florida.
The school’s response to all the criticism surrounding this case HERE.
The letter of the law demanded it and school administrators believe kids should learn that “there are consequences to their actions.”
Sign the petition to get the felony charges dropped HERE.
Details of the sich:
Nobody was hurt. No property was damaged.
Perhaps Kiera did violate the school code:
Section 5.5 of the school’s conduct code, which mandates expulsion for any “student in possession of a bomb or explosive device … while at a school, a school activity or a school bus … unless it’s used as part of a school-related activity sanctioned by and conducted by a teacher.”
If you want to designate an 8oz plastic bottle and its flying cap followed by a few puffs of smoke “a bomb or explosive device”.
I can quibble details with the best of them. Kiera said it was an experiment for a science fair project. The fair and the student’s projects I’m guessing are “part of a school-related activity sanctioned by and conducted by a teacher”.
That her science teacher knew nothing about her experiment means nothing. My teacher’s didn’t know jack about my science fair experiments, how I conducted them, researched them and put them together until they saw my displays at the fairs. So yeah, thanks “teacher”. Way to throw your student under the bus.
But ok. Let’s say she did violate that school code. Let’s say she then should be expelled from the school. Fine. (not actually fine but I’ll play along).
But then tell me this.
How is she then dragged away in handcuffs, put in a juvenile detention center and charged as adult with a FELONY?
Splain me dat Lucy.
And all of this on the heels of the amazing science fair that was just held at the White House where students just like Kiera absolutely got to shine and show off the results of their scientific curiosity and the results of their experimenting in that field learning.
“America has always been about discovery, and invention, and engineering, and science and evidence,” said the President, last week. “That’s who we are.”
Tell that to Kiera and her family.
There is lot in play here. If you think race has nothing to do with this, please think again. Kiera is just another student of color in the loooong loooong line of kids targeted and caught up in this school-to-prison pipeline. It is a real thing, and it is happening here in America.
I can’t even begin to articulate the issues that are at hand being a student of color especially a Black student. If you ask me about it, I will tell you, but I can’t go into it today. Do some googling on the subject and read the horror stories. This has been going on for decades in this country. (Centuries?) But let’s not get all historical, let’s stick to the present.
In a nutshell. Juvenile detention centers, jails and prisons are being populated in increasing numbers by black and brown students. They are being tagged and targeted and lifted from the student populations of those that have been put in detention, suspended and/or expelled.
Chicago: Black students are 45% of the student body. But they are 76% of those suspended.
New York: Black students are 30% of the student body. But they are 54% of those suspended.
Los Angeles: Black students are 9% of the student body. But are 28% of those suspended. (source)
There is also the knee-jerk hysterical response to anything even remotely bomb-like. I know. Because Boston. And Terrorism. Scary brown folks. But really people?
I’m with Sesali Bowen from Feministing who said in her article:
I call bullshit. This is not about the “safety and security” of students and staff at Bartow High School. This was about setting an example, at the expense of Wilmot, and sending a message that even (mis)perceived threats will be dealt with swiftly and harshly. The unfortunate truth is that in America, those perceptions are heavily tied up in notions of race, class, and gender.
SIGN THE PETITION. Pass it along. Signal boost it. Get the word out. What this teenager did was not grounds for being charged as an adult and having a FELONY on her record for the rest of her life.