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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

Get a clue February 26, 2013 at 11:13 AM
Of course, the NAACP is only outraged because it happened to a black child.... as they so aptly pointed out.
Get a clue February 26, 2013 at 11:14 AM
AMEN!!!
Richard February 26, 2013 at 11:36 AM
Henry, your comment is racist. You can guarantee that you pay more taxes than this kid's mother does? You just assume she is poor because she is black? Perhaps she couldn't be found because she works two jobs to be able to afford school clothes and toys for the kid?
Flagrante Delicto February 26, 2013 at 11:42 AM
" Subjecting any child, and especially an African American child, to arrest..." The core word of "especially" here being "special." So, because the child who carried a toy gun on the bus is black, he should receive special consideration? So much for racial equality.
Gregory E. Bouknight February 26, 2013 at 12:04 PM
I can agree. No one is addressing the Bus. This incident didn't happen at the school, it happened on the bus. I am wondering though, did they know it was a toy before or after they got it? Also, if everyone is so concerned about toy guns, why are manufacturers still allowed to make them, and then make them look real?
Flagrante Delicto February 26, 2013 at 12:19 PM
You see here's the thing, as a child of the late 50's and 60's, most young boys of the day played Army, Cowboys and Indians, Cops and Robbers. We had B.B. guns hunted squirrel and quail and with dad hunted deer and ducks. But never, ever did we have deranged students blowing away classrooms or have alcohol/drug problems. So,what is the generation change here? For one, when we got home from school, there was mother, to make sure we did our chores and homework. Parents had expectations of their children and there where consequences for children who didn't meet them.. If I wanted a powered model airplane, I worked to earn money/allowance and learned from my father the Four "S's", Systematic Savings Spells Success. Back in my day, children didn't have lawyers or national advocacy groups interferring with a parent's actions in rearing their child. In school, we had corporal punishment for unruley students, and when I misbehaved (and boy did I), my father gave me the right to go out to our orange grove and cut my own switch. A belt to the behind is a great motivator. As I see it, the problem with our children in this country today is directly related to the progressive movement which took over our school, local, state and federal systems and took a once great nation of personal responsibility into a nanny state where "it takes a village" to raise a child.
Rob Randolph February 26, 2013 at 12:37 PM
how did school officials find out about the gun .. if another student reported it then that was good thing out of this story .... at least a child had the sense to report it ... no guns in school ARE THose THE RULES ?????? if so, sorry little kid your mommy and daddy didnt check your back pack before you went to school .......
harry8227 February 26, 2013 at 12:42 PM
Its about time we get together and turn this absurd policy of arresting every body for having toys around. Yes you could teach kids thee is a time and place for everything and in this case if needed you could take the toy away and give it to the parents with an admonishment that its not allowed and let it go at that but arresting a kid for a toy is asinine
harry8227 February 26, 2013 at 12:47 PM
Good point. White Americans are a becoming a minority nowadays, but why isn't that brought up and used in the same way other race issues are brought up. If this was a white child nothing would have been said and it surely wouldn't have made it this forum.
H hunt February 26, 2013 at 01:39 PM
Since it was a toy it's not a weapon. Get a life. When we were kids we'd play cowboys and indians with more realistic looking toy guns than they are allowed to make today. We took them to school, stores and even resturants. We didn't affend anyone because there was common sense back then
Flagrante Delicto February 26, 2013 at 01:40 PM
Oh, "That Thing You Do."
Master Rod February 26, 2013 at 01:52 PM
You Sir, are an educated, and most reasonable man. It is not about race. What happened here was wrong. Schools are supposed to be places where kids can err, get punished, and then bounce back up with new understanding. Everybody was complaining about there rights. Well, you got what you wished for. We won't violate your rights with corporal punishment, we will just have you arrested, and make you a criminal. See where all these whinny babies have led us.....
CMurphy February 26, 2013 at 01:54 PM
If they were afraid there may be "evidence of intent to threaten, scare, intimidate...etc" then police should have confronted the ten year-old before he got on the bus the next morning. If the safety of the students was paramount, the APD and ACPS should have intervened before he put the children on the school bus in more danger - assuming you actually thoink this was a good arrest.
CMurphy February 26, 2013 at 01:58 PM
Drew it sure would be nice to see statistics regarding the number of students who have been disciplined for bringing a gun or toy gun to school. How many of them were arrested? Were any other sting operations conducted or was this the first? Is it school policy to respond to a gun incident on a bus by allowing the alleged perpetrator to bring the same gun back on the bus 17 hours later? Or does ACPS usually intervene prior to the perpetrator going back to school the next day?
James majors February 26, 2013 at 02:06 PM
I was just in a place in Cleveland Ohio it gives home energy assistance. There was a little boy about 5 playing with a toy gun with a big orange tip and it was shiny silver plastic. Anyone could see it was a toy. Well suddenly a policewoman came out and took the toy that noone else was paying attention to(after all everyone could see it was a toy)well after seeing the little boy sitting on the floor crying I was on my way out and told the officer that I hoped she was happy for making the little boy cry. At that time age actually filled me outside the building and acted like she was going to arrest me for telling her that.at one point telling me to come back in and was going to have a patrol car come get me.. I guess that's how they do things at 1849 prospect in Cleveland , Ohio. Any comments on this? Email me " jimmajors@ yahoo. Com
b. gunn February 26, 2013 at 02:07 PM
what did the child's color have to do with this. the boy took a toy gun to school. I have seen toy guns that look real. toy gun could get your child killed
Linda Scott February 26, 2013 at 02:22 PM
I think kids use play as one way of processing anything that disturbs them. It's hard to escape the omnipresence of guns and violence all around us - can't blame kids for trying to do their best to live with that. Rules are fine, but the impact of the disturbance has to go somewhere, and will eventually be expressed somehow.
CMurphy February 26, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Toy gun could get the child killed, but it certainly won't be hurting anybody else. It's not a weapon. The boy was ten. They let him back on the bus with the gun the next day. How concerned were they?
Connie McClintock February 26, 2013 at 02:48 PM
Tolstoy doesn't feel like editing her commentary. Gun-phobia has become a sickness in this country. Grow up folks. There's nothing wrong with guns..... only with the people who misuse them.
Henry February 26, 2013 at 03:00 PM
"but it certainly won't be hurting anybody else" -Except for the unlucky individuals standing beside him when the police open fire. "It's not a weapon" -Irrelevant. Again, I direct you to the state statute. "They let him back on the bus with the gun the next day. How concerned were they?" -Considering his mother was unreachable and there is, apparently, no father to contact, I think it was reasonable to collect him at school. Mr. Majors- isn't it a little early to be drinking?
Sandra Black February 26, 2013 at 03:19 PM
Instead of there being the NAACP, it should be the NAAAP," NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF ANY PEOPLE," saying that ,"Subjecting any child, especially an African American child to an arrest...", what difference does the color make? That statement took the whole focus of what the news story was about and made it a racial issue, but I guess that was the purpose, now the mother and the NAACP should be able to sue someone, especially since it was an AFRICAN AMERICAN issue!
CMurphy February 26, 2013 at 03:21 PM
You're either naive or just trolling if you think this is the first time a ten year old brought a toy gun to school. It's perfectly reasonable to ask whether the policy that you endorse so overwhelmingly has been applied uniformly among all students and at all ACPS schools. Just because Sherman said they couldn't reach the mother doesn't make it true. Why not send Officer Lingle or another school resource officer to the boy's house that evening? If not, why not send a school resource officer to the bus stop to make sure the boy doesn't get on the bus the next morning with the gun? Instead, they chose to initiate a sting operation without the mother's knowledge. If this was a matter of saftey, the school dropped the ball BIG TIME by letting the child back on the bus the next morning with the toy gun. And it's also perfectly reasonable for the NAACP to wonder aloud if this state policy you endorse so robustly has been applied evenly among students of all stripes and colors here in Alexandria.
David L. Arnce February 26, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Yes, today we seem to over-react...more and more...
Albert Gazalooch February 26, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Times have changed! Since black and white kids are getting caught with real loaded guns in their backpacks, a toy gun has no place in school or a school bus. I own two guns that look identical from 10 feet away. One an AirSoft and the other a real Baretta 92FS. I can understand the concern.
Richard February 26, 2013 at 04:37 PM
Tracy and others, don't fall for the media hype that there is a "wave of violence" pervading our schools. I used to tell my kids when they were growing up that the 30 million kids who walk to school every day and do NOT get hit by a car do not get an item in the newspaper. I'm not minimizing the seriousness of the issue, but ten or even thirty kids being killed in three or four years is not a "wave of violence". During the same time period literally thousands of kids have been killed in auto accidents while being driven to school by parents who are afraid to allow them to walk. The 24 hour news cycle and the tendency for the media to emphasize violent crimes is the problem. not a few crazy guys with guns.
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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