The Miami-Dade Police Department has arrested a 13-year-old eighth-grader from Leewood K-8 Center on a felony charge.
Last Wednesday, the boy sent threatening text messages via group chat, planning to kill minorities and members of the LGBTQ+ community with the ammunition available in his home.
A 13-year old student from Leewood K-8 is under arrest after being accused of sending a hate-filled tirade against minorities to other students. The messages threatened to kill. @WPLGLocal10 pic.twitter.com/2fRgvgUvBs
— Terrell Forney (@TerrellWPLG) September 23, 2019
The student claimed that minorities complained too much about oppression and other issues, and that this was reason enough to kill them. He also stated that he had the military training to kill these individuals himself.
Despite only being thirteen, he appeared to understand the gravity of the statements he was making, and the social shock value of his words.
This is harrowing and I urge you all to read the threats in here, and know that they are from a 13 yo. https://t.co/qtpuCp8SVa
— AK (deep in: Grindblue 🗺) (@TheLonester) September 24, 2019
He stated that he knew his words would be taken seriously, and that he would be listened to, because of identifying as a “straight, white male.”
He also compared LGBTQ+ oppression with the systemic oppression of owning firearms.
The teen wrote:
“I don’t care if you are oppressed because we all have our problems. Wanna hear what is oppressed? My shotgun ammo because I am wasting it on minorities like you.”
The thirteen-year-old later added:
“I am on my way to murder you. I hate not only you and your ‘LGBT community’ but I also hate your ‘blacklivesmatter’ because, guess what, white lives matter too.”
Fellow students in the group chat saw the threats and reported them, which led to his arrest.
Jackie Calzadilla, the spokesperson for the school system, said of the student’s actions:
“Miami-Dade County Public Schools goes to great lengths to promote a culture of respect, restraint, and tolerance among our students. Students who choose negative words or actions over the values we promote will learn a tough lesson. Written and verbal threats of any kind will be handled swiftly and may result in severe consequences.”
When confronted by law enforcement officials, the student back-peddled on his statements and said he had copy-and-pasted the words from another source.
Because of the gravity of the threats, however, he was transported to a juvenile detention center and charged with one count of writing threats to kill.
Several parents weighed in on the situation, his words and how his actions were handled.
One parent, Shauntae Fountain, stated:
“The whole thing is mind-boggling.”
Another parent said:
“It’s scary that their minds think like that.”
One father, Mike Mesa, confided:
“Unfortunately, this is becoming the new normal, and it’s a scary situation to be in.
When contacted for comment, the boy’s grandfather said he would not have written such messages, because they are an immigrant family. He also said the family did not like guns, and the teen would not have access to them.
No matter the living situation in his home, his actions have made some parents in the community restless, and more than likely some students as well.
So how can schools and parents combat such hate in young people?
The book Homophobia: Deal with it and turn prejudice into pride, available here, includes activities to foster discussion.
“That’s so gay! It’s a phrase commonly heard in school halls and playgrounds. But when used as a put-down, it’s also homophobic.”
“With plenty of quizzes, Q+As, comics, and scenarios, this interactive and highly visual new book in the Deal With It series helps kids determine what is―and what isn’t―homophobia, and what they can do to make their schools, homes, and communities more safe and inclusive for everyone.”
The book Teaching Tough Topics: How Do I Use Children’s Literature to Build a Deeper Understanding of Social Justice, Equity, and Diversity?, available here, gives educators, youth leaders and parents tools to make children think critically about bigotry.
“Teaching Tough Topics shows teachers how to lead students to become caring citizens as they read and respond to quality childrens literature. It focuses on topics that can be challenging or sensitive yet significant for building an understanding of social justice, diversity and equity.”
“Racism, homophobia, bullying, religious intolerance, poverty, and physical and mental challenges are just some of the themes explored. The book is rooted in the belief that, by using picture books, novels, poetry, and nonfiction, teachers can enrich learning with compassion and empathy as students make connections to texts, to others and to the world.”
Listen to the first season of George Takei’s podcast, ‘Oh Myyy Pod!‘ where we explore the racially charged videos that have taken the internet by storm.
Be sure to subscribe here and never miss an episode.