A Black student was handcuffed and arrested after an Arizona school declared that he violated its dress code.
Apache Junction High School was the setting of an uncomfortable encounter between a teen and a police officer on Aug. 10, online videos revealed. The incident has sparked discussions about discipline and discrimination against students in schools.
The student, identified as senior Valentino Jimenez, was initially asked by the officer to take off his navy bandana before he refused, CBS 46 reported.
“Why don’t you just take me out now and save yourself the trouble, bro,” the student said to the Apache Junction Police Department officer, as heard in a video.
The connotation was that Jimenez would end up dead like many other police encounters with young people of color, but the officer denied the racial implication.
“It has nothing to do with the color of his skin. It’s not me harassing him. All he’s doing is wearing a bandanna, which you’re not allowed to do on campus, OK? Don’t wear a bandana, that’s it,” the officer said in response to the student’s comment.
The officer then addressed the crowd, saying Jimenez wouldn’t face any punishment if he removed the bandana. The teen appeared adamant about keeping it on, trying to walk away after informing the cop that he needs to go to class. A back-and-forth verbal disagreement then continued between the teen and officer as teachers told students watching the exchange to move out of the hallways, the video showed.
A moment of physical contact happened when the officer put his hand on Jimenez’s arm before the teen shrugged it off. Two other officers also got involved in the incident, which ended with the cops trying to escort the teen off school grounds and handcuffing him.
The scene was quite disturbing, with one student heard saying the cops were “harassing” the teen.
School officials later explained to parents that the ‘disruptive” teen had been asked to remove the bandana before an Apache Junction PD D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer and two other officers got involved in the situation, The Arizona Republic reported. The school’s dress code doesn’t specifically refer to bandannas but refers to clothing that displays “tobacco, racial symbols, alcohol, drugs, sexually suggestive images or gang affiliations” as not being permitted.
It was unclear if the bandana fell under items forbidden by the dress code.
“The Board will not interfere with the right of students and their parents to make decisions regarding their appearance except when their choices affect the educational program of the schools or the health and safety of others,” the school’s handbook said.
Three other students were also arrested on “suspicion of disrupting an educational institution, disorderly conduct and drug paraphernalia” during the school incident. The teen, as well as his three classmates, were referred to the Pinal County Juvenile Court system.
The incident was one of many that shed light on how students of color can be introduced to the school-to-prison pipeline.
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