The GOP holds the majority in the Virginia House and Senate by a razor-thin majority. In a special legislative session about gun control. Dozens of young black members of a local Boys & Girls Club attended. They were sitting in the gallery to offer legislators encouragement to act on guns control and to watch the legislature in action.
One of the boys, Jae Hutchinson, decided to remain silent and seated for the Pledge of Allegiance as the session began. This was his respectful protest. Another observer noticed a “female state trooper” who forced him to stand. “(She) pulled on him. That is not legal. That is assault:”
‘I’m sitting in the senate gallery of Virginia. I just witnessed a female state trooper force a young black male to stand for the pledge. She physically touched him and pulled on him. That is not legal. That is assault.’
‘2) She didn’t just ask him to stand. She touched him. More than once. A tap on his shoulder then a tug on his shirt. I was just about to go over to her when he stood. It infuriated me.’
‘…it’s worth repeating that students have the right to refuse to participate without fear of punishment or retaliation.’
A notice appeared on Monica Hutchison’s Facebook Page. This was her son, and she explained why they protest:
‘This happened to my oldest son Jae today😔. My son chose to sit and not say the Pledge of Allegiance. We have discussed it, my boys and I, they understand why we silently protest. I sit during the Pledge and Anthem to silently protest this very thing. My son made the choice to exercise his RIGHT to sit and silently protest. She violated him, and he is hurt by it. I was in the House Gallery and he was in the Senate Gallery.’
The mother of the young man continued discussing how her son felt about the incident:
‘He told me afterwards he didn’t want to make a big deal about it right then because he did not want to negatively impact the Club or the other kid’s experiences today. I told him I would report it tomorrow….My son suffered in silence bc he was thinking of others before himself. Make no mistake, I am LIVID!!! She had NO right forcing him to stand. He asked me afterwards, if he still has rights. Damn right you do baby. I will fight until my dying breath to defend those rights for you and others.’
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