For dressing up like a banana and running onto a football field during halftime at a Colonial Forge High School football game on Friday, September 16, 14-year-old Bryan Thompson was (1) handcuffed by police; (2) placed in a police car; (3) suspended for 10 days; (4) threatened with suspension for the rest of the school year.
Can we call this a case of the punishment not exactly fitting what wasn’t even a crime?
According to a letter from principal Karen C. Spillman of Stafford, Virginia, Bryan has been suspended for “disobedience” and “disrespectful” behavior towards an administrator, “disruption” of a student activity, a “refusal” to follow the directions of an administrator and “continued disregard of the Student Code of Conduct.” In particular, he was seen as “presenting an immediate danger to the welfare, health and safety of any person.” How a teenage boy donning a banana costume and running onto a football field, and during halftime, could cause all that is not spelled out in the letter. The video below shows what occurred:
The Monday after the game, Bryan’s schoolmates protested his suspension by wearing “Free Banana Man” t-shirts — only to have them confiscated and to be ordered to be at school on Saturday as a punishment. Clearly the authorities at Colonial Forge High school felt that the incident had to be squashed faster than you can flatten, yes, a banana. At this point, the ACLU stepped in on the grounds that freedom of speech was being suppressed. Thousands expressed support for Bryan via Facebook as did students at his school, saying that they felt the principal had been overly harsh. Some, though, said they felt that students were objecting more to a new “principal seen as overly strict by some,” rather than standing up for Bryan.
In any event, the Stafford school district reduced Bryan’s suspension to five days. Bryan, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, returned to school this Monday morning and, according to his mother, Tavia Thompson, he “was just happy to be back at school.”
Photo by clvergrrl
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