Teenager arrested and charged with hate crime offences after targeting a non-binary student at high school.
The arrest came only after a peaceful student-led protest demanding action, which itself became an alarmingly hostile environment when one student made threats of gun violence towards protesters.
Police have arrested a 16-year-old high school student on hate crime charges for allegedly assaulting a non-binary classmate on June 6.
The ‘vicious’ attack took place at Kalama High School, Washington, however an arrest was made only after a student-led protest demanded action. Which itself ignited more anti-LGBTQ hate.
A 16-year student at Kalama High School was arrested for allegedly starting a brutal fight with a classmate, local news outlet KPTV initially reported.
Investigators say the suspect started the fight by yelling homophobic slurs at the victim, with the situation then escalating to the point where the suspect allegedly kicked the victim in the head, knocking them out.
An apparent lack of action from school officials prompted students to stage a protest on school grounds on Monday (June 13), but the peaceful demonstration very quickly became serious after another student allegedly used homophobic slurs against the protesting students and threatened to pull a gun on participants, resulting in a district-wide lockdown and yet another arrest.
The Kalama Police Department on Monday (June 13) arrested a 15-year-old Kalama High School freshman for reportedly telling a classmate he wanted to aim an “automatic machine gun” at the demonstration on campus supporting LGBTQ+ students, OPB reports.
The student accused of making the threat, just weeks after the tragedy at Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, is said to have been brought to law enforcement after his Mother learned he was being sought by police.
“The classmate was concerned enough to make administrators aware of the statements that were made,” Kalama Police Chief Ralph Herrera told OPB.
“The threat occurred on school grounds, in general proximity to the group of demonstrators at a bus loop circle area,” Herrera added.
The student’s parents are said to have told officers that he had no access to weapons and he would apparently face a misdemeanour charge of disrupting school activities.
“While it was a credible threat, it was not an actionable threat,” Herrera said.
As for the initial attack, Natasha Wheeler, the victim’s mother, told KPTV:
“That kid broke his hand on my kid’s skull and knocked [them] out,” Wheeler said. “Then, he stood up and kicked [them] in the head and said, ‘How do you like that?’ with an F-slur.”
Wheeler then told The Daily Beast that the incident was a culmination of mounting threats that all began when her child started a club for LGBTQ+ students.
The victim, who does not want to be publicly identified, is non-binary and uses they/ them pronouns.
“The harassment at school, it’s been ongoing for a while. But when [my child] started the club is when it got real severe and they started targeting all these kids,” Wheeler said. “They pick on any[one who’s] different.”
According to reports from FOX 12, the school only took action on the matter as a result of students’ staging the walkout, with some telling the outlet that the school administration are to blame for allowing hate speech to be tolerated on campus.
Wheeler said to Fox 12:
“Those kids were out there peacefully protesting, which is their right to do,” Wheeler said. “For a lot of them, that was their moment to feel their strength, to have their voice be heard because they’ve been stifled for so long before I even got here. I’ve talked to other parents and this has been an issue for years at this school.”
A statement from Kalama School District shared after the arrest read:
“The actions by one of our students last week are not consistent with the values and mission of Kalama School District. We stand with our student body in demanding a school environment free from harassment, abuse, and violence, and we thank our students and families for helping to drive the conversation around acceptance, understanding, and school safety.”
Not to state
THE COMPLETE FU*KING obvious, but this type of political rhetoric from GOP state officials, who tell kids that LGBTQ+ people are bad and that guns are okay, is unequivocally to blame for very real and potentially dangerous situations like this where innocent kids are put at risk.
Fortunately, on this occasion, no one was seriously hurt. On this occasion.
We’re joining with @rainbowcntr @WAstateLGBTQ and @GenderJusticeWA to urge the Kalama School District to take decisive action in addressing the assault of a transgender student. We stand ready to support and ensure every child is safe at school. Read more: https://t.co/FvXE0Mngvr pic.twitter.com/et5rJ7Idug
— ADL Pacific Northwest (@ADLPNW) June 17, 2022