Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sign the petition: Florida State Attorney Jerry Hill, Drop charges against Kiera Wilmot

If you have been following the Trayvon Martin murder case, then this news will astound you. Racial injustice has reoccurred in Florida. A high school student, Kiera Wilmot (who is a black female), was expelled from her school district and faces two felony charges as an adult because her science experiment went awry (minor explosion that caused no damage). Science experiments can often malfunction in school. The most common punishment is generally detention or suspension. These criminal charges are not only extreme but also sends a chilly message to underrepresented minorities that a science career is not an option for them. Tell the Florida Attorney General that the state should re-examine its zero-tolerance school policies and stop making unjustified criminal examples out of black children. Sign and share this petition with your family, friends, and colleagues.

Kiera Wilmot has been described as an exemplary student and a wonderful young woman. Why is it then that an experiment gone wrong is being dealt with by the police and school as a felony offense? According to the Miami Times:

"7 a.m. on Monday, the 16 year-old mixed some common household chemicals in a small 8 oz water bottle on the grounds of Bartow High School in Bartow, Florida. The reaction caused a small explosion that caused the top to pop up and produced some smoke. No one was hurt and no damage was caused."

The principal has said that that he doesn't believe she had any malicious intentions. Yet she now faces two felony charges as an adult. These include making, possessing or discharging a destructive device and with possessing or discharging weapons on school grounds! 

I've learned that the charges have not yet been filed and this means that Florida State Attorney Jerry Hill and Assistant State Attorney Tammy Glotfelty have an opportunity to the right thing, use common sense, and drop these charges against Kiera. 

Please sign this petition to challenge any decision to so drastically charge this young woman for something that was a simple mistake. Her life should not be turned upside down, her future crushed, because someone wants to make a statement. There was no criminal activity here - she does not deserve to be punished like this. Help Kiera find real justice!

[Update #1]: Writing at BlackAmericaWeb, Gregory Kane argues that black parents of teens should steer clear of Florida, after lawmakers allowed the arrest and expulsion of Kiera Wilmot over a science experiment. The gross miscarriage of justice represents business as usual when it comes to laws and black youth.

[Update #2] The lawyer for the teenager arrested this week for a science experiment is working to prevent felony charges from being filed, according to Business Insider's Science page. Honor student Kiera Wilmot was arrested for playing with chemicals on school grounds Monday, April 29.

[Update #3] The petition was a success! After over 195,500 signatures, the Florida Attorney General decided not to charge Kiera Wilmot. The Orlando Sentinel provides more details. 


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