15-year-old Shemar, a sophomore from Eisenhower High School in Blue Island, says a teacher tried to pull him out from his seat during the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance. The incident occurred because Shemar decided to sit down during the pledge as a protest of police brutality against blacks.
According to the Chicago Tribune, a spokesman from Community High School District 218 said the district takes reports of harassment or threats very seriously and often open investigations regarding incidents like these.
Superintendent Ty Harding acknowledged there was an incident between a student and a teacher regarding the pledge, but denied any involvement of the student being pulled out from his seat by the teacher. Harding also confirmed that the teacher has been disciplined, but kept the level of the discipline and name of the teacher confidential.
When interviewed by the Chicago Tribune, Shemar said he was in his seat during the pledge throughout his freshman year at Eisenhower simply because he did not want to stand up. After watching videos of the recent police violence against blacks, he decided to protest against this issue by refusing to stand during the pledge.
When the teacher first asked him why he refused to stand and recite the pledge during class, he replied, "America sucks," according to the Chicago Tribune.
The Chicago Tribune also interviewed Shemar’s mother, Kelly Porter Turner, regarding the incident and said when she was first confronted about the situation, she had her son apologize to the teacher but also mentioned that it is his right if he did not want to stand. "In my mind, it was over," Porter Turner said. "There was nothing else to discuss.”
The next day, Shemar refused to stand during the pledge, and his teacher grabbed him by the arm. "I pulled back and she grabbed me, and eventually I yanked, all the way,” he said. He also mentioned the teacher then announced to the class that if anyone else refused to stand during the pledge, they would be written up.
When learning of this incident, Porter Turner called to have a meeting with the associate principal to ask the teacher for an apology. "This meeting was at my request, so that she could apologize to my son. It never happened. He was again being accused of being disrespectful,” Turner stated.
Since the meeting, Porter Turner again has requested for an apology from the teacher and asked the district to send out a letter explaining the constitutional rights the students have, but he does not expect either to happen.
"No one is trying to pick a fight or make Eisenhower look like some horrifying school, although they've done that for themselves, but it's about the truth," she said. "It's about the truth and what's right and what's legal, and that's all it really is." Porter Turner mentioned she would be fine with the district’s decision towards the incident as long as the school disciplined the teacher for grabbing her son. Porter Turner is in the process of enrolling Shemar into an online charter school.