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Posted under: Social Justice News

A 12-Year-Old Black Colorado Student Now Has A Police Record After His Teacher Saw A Toy Gun During A Virtual Class

Isaiah Elliot had cops called on him by his teacher after his Nerf gun made an appearance in cyber school.

Police in Colorado have harshly cracked down on a Black seventh-grader seen playing with a Nerf gun during a virtual class, according to The Washington Post. 

Dani Elliott was horrified on August 27 when Grand Mountain School officials called her at work and told her police were on their way to her home because her son Isaiah's art teacher saw him pointing the small toy gun at the screen. 

Isaiah's teacher emailed his mother to tell her he'd been playing with the toy during class. The child has ADHD. The teacher told Elliott she knew it was a toy, but had already contacted the vice principal, who in turn contacted a school resource officer. 

“I never thought: ‘You can’t play with a Nerf gun in your own home because somebody may perceive it as a threat and call the police on you,’” Elliott told the newspaper.

The police were called and went to Elliott's house, where they found her son and another boy playing with the toy. Her husband let the police in and the officers threatened the 12-year-old with criminal charges if he every brought the toy to school. 

Enraged at the visit, Elliott's husband looked at video of the incident and said at no point did their son point the toy at the screen. He simply moved it from one side of a couch to another. The other boy that was with him also received a five-day suspension, the Washington Post reported. 

Isaiah now has a record with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, was suspended from school for five days and saddled with a mark on his disciplinary record for bringing a “facsimile of a firearm to school” despite being at home during the incident.

“I said: ‘Black children cannot have that sort of thing on their record. You are reducing his chances at success,’” Elliott later told school administrators, who refused to change the punishment even after Elliott and her husband questioned why the situation warranted police involvement. 

“He was in tears when the police came. He was very scared. He said: ‘Mommy, I had butterflies in my stomach. I was scared and thought I was going to jail,’” she said, noting that her son is the same age as Tamir Rice, who was shot to death by police for holding a toy gun in 2014. Rice was just 12 years old when he was killed.

Elliott shared a photo of the toy, with its neon green coloring and "Zombie Hunter" writing on the side, with the Washington Post. She was also angry that the school's report made it seem like her son brought the toy gun to the school building. 

Grand Mountain School has released a statement about the situation and blamed misinformation online for making their actions seem worse than it appeared. The school has since deleted the statement that it posted to Facebook. 

“We never have or ever will condone any form of racism or discrimination. Safety will always be number one for our students and staff. We follow board policies and safety protocols consistently, whether we are in-person or distance learning,” the statement said. 

The school insisted they called the police for Isaiah's safety but Elliott reiterated that the school put her son in even more danger by calling the police before her. 

In a police report obtained by local news outlet KOAA, officer Steven Paddack explained that both Elliott and her husband were enraged that the school would call the cops on a Black child during such turbulent times. 

Assistant Principal Keri Lindaman told the officer that Elliott said, "I can’t believe you called the police and a young African-American male in todays society with everything going on!”

Elliott and her husband, who both work for the military, have pulled their son out of the school and are looking to put him in another charter school. 

She also criticized the school for not telling parents that video sessions were being recorded, and the school later apologized for not notifying parents. Yet, the school has refused to share the video of the incident with Elliott, according to BuzzFeed.

"This is not the first time my son has faced racism or discrimination or anything like that. If the school was so concerned with my son's safety, why not just call me first. If they were so concerned with his safety, why call the police and give them this preconceived notion that my son is some sort of trouble maker?" Elliott said to KOAA.

“With the cultural events going on right now, especially for young African Americans, you calling the police and telling them that he could have a gun, you put his life in jeopardy,” she added in her interview with the Washington Post.

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