The parents of a 13-year-old boy in Virginia Beach who was suspended for touching the American flag say that their son was unfairly treated because he is black.
Virginia Beach Public Schools Spokesperson Eileen Cox claimed the suspension was ordered after a teacher at Plaza Middle School observed Moses Hinton returning from the bathroom and wiping his hands on the flag because there were no paper towels in the bathroom on May 21, 2012.
Family attorney Wayne Scriven told WAVY that he asked the boy if he had washed his hands before returning from the bathroom.
“He said, ‘I did,’” Scriven recalled. “He said there weren’t any paper towels, so I dried them on my pants before I started walking back.”
Moses Hinton’s mother, Victoria, added that they boy had told her: “Mommy, I was coming up the stairs and I lost my balance and I touched the flag.”
Scriven explained to WTKR that he believes that the suspension was racially motivated because Moses was the only African American male in the school’s gifted program.
“Why react so harshly?” the attorney wondered. “You have a bright, gifted, young black male; it seems to be an attempt to pour ice water on his motivation.”
New York school board member Wayne Hobb, who is a friend of the family, agreed that the suspension was out of line.
“Defacing would be putting paint on it, burning it, putting in the garbage,” Hobbs said. “Not drying your hands if it’s wet.”
While the Hinton family is not seeking monetary compensation, they are keeping all legal options open until the school agrees to clear the boy’s record.
United States code regulating treatment of the flag does not mention how the flag should be touched.
Watch this video from WAVY, broadcast June 7, 2012.
(h/t: The Huffington Post)