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NAACP Criticizes Arrest of MacArthur Student for Toy Gun Incident

Alexandria NAACP branch leadership plans meeting with ACPS officials.

ALEXANDRIA, VA -- The Alexandria branch of the NAACP is criticizing the Feb. 5 arrest of a 10-year-old Douglas MacArthur Elementary School student for an incident involving a toy gun, calling it “senseless” and “insensitive” in a statement sent to Patch Sunday evening because “by all accounts, everyone knew” the toy wasn't a weapon.

Branch President James Williams and Vice President Jacqueline Johnson said they plan to meet with Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Morton Sherman to address the incident and how it was handled. The student is African American.

• See Patch’s previous coverage on gun laws: Biden in Richmond "We Cannot Remain Silent on Guns"     

“While we are sensitive to and share in the legitimate safety concerns parents and school officials have over the safety and well-being of our children, this incident clearly shows the ‘adults’ involved acted without due regard to basic common sense,” the statement reads. “We expect more from those to whom we entrust our children’s future and educational needs. Subjecting any child, and especially an African American child, to arrest and a possible criminal record over a toy is foolish and insulting to our community.”

Nakicha Gilbert, the 10-year-old student’s mother, and others criticized the case’s handling in a story last week in The Washington Post. 

• See Patch’s previous story: Mother of ACPS Student Arrested for Toy Gun Incident Criticizes Case's Handling     

Alexandria City Public Schools officials have said they were following local policies and state laws following notification of the Feb. 4 incident, which occurred on a school bus.

Jackie Surratt, chair of the Alexandria chapter of the NAACP’s community coordination committee, told Patch last week, at Gilbert’s request, he participated in a “fact-finding session” with ACPS Superintendent Morton Sherman’s staff about the incident.

“After all is said and done, it was a terrible mishandling,” Surratt said.

• See Patch's previous story: MacArthur Student Handed Weapons Charge Following Toy Gun Incident

Edmund Lewis February 26, 2013 at 08:52 PM
There was an incident at Mount Vernon Community School in August involving students and an air soft gun. The end result there was not the arrest of a child. Seems despite what the superintendent claims, the system has flexibility in cases such as this one. Why was this incident handled in this manner when an earlier incident in which students could have been injured by projectiles was handled much differently? The superintendent has explaining to do beyond the dubious just following policy line.
CMurphy February 26, 2013 at 09:34 PM
Thank You Edmund Lewis! it's obvious to those of us who have lived here for the past 30 plus years that times have changed. It's also quite obvious that despite the defense of "our hands were tied by the state" that has been offered up so much, there is leeway in how the school officials handle these things. Of course they have to address it, but how they address is seems to be up to some discretion - as it should.
Master Rod March 02, 2013 at 05:56 PM
A toy gun is not a weapon. On the other hand, anything can be used as a weapon. A rock in it self is just a rock. A sharpened pencil in it self is just a pencil. A school satchel in it self is just a satchel. Yet, they can be used as formidable weapons by a knowledgeable person. So why do we have people run and hide when some kid draws the picture of a gun on paper. Fools, The lot of you.....
Albert Gazalooch March 03, 2013 at 12:10 AM
They should remove the reference to Negroes as "colored" people. The NAACP was never about the advancement of Native Americans, Chinese or Hispanics. National Association for the Advancement of African Americans is actually more politically correct. This was passed on to me by an AA friend who hates the "colored" reference!
Albert Gazalooch March 03, 2013 at 12:21 AM
Here's what weapons are already allowed in industrial arts classrooms: Hammers, chisels, screwdrivers, scribes and awls, razor knives, mauls, sledge hammers, pry bars, staple guns, pneumatic nailers, cutting torches and reciprocal saw blades. Allowed in physical education... baseball bats, javelins and hand weights. Allowed in home economics: Cleavers, butcher knives, steak knives, carving knives, paring knives, forks and meat tenderizing mallets. ALL of the above can be used as an assault weapon and actually kill another human being. So put the gun shaped Danish rolls and chicken fingers aside and dig into the real problems!

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