Bryan Thompson was having a little fun. So, the 14-year old at Colonial Forge High School in Stafford County started bounding around the sidelines during half time at his school’s football game last Friday-- in a banana costume as yellow as a cartoon sun.
The antic got him handcuffed, placed in a cop car, and suspended from school for 10 days.
Thompson, an African-American freshman at the school, was not arrested. But he might still be expelled from school, said his mother, Tavia Thompson. She was told his romp could have led to “mayhem.”
“I would understand if they banned him from football games, or banned him from after school events- but disrupting his educational experience?”she said.
The issue has caused a stir at the school and on the internet. Students made up “Free Bananaman” t-shirts- which school officials swiftly confiscated from students- and the homemade video has gotten tens of thousands of views in several days.
Tavia Thompson said Bryan has autism, which may have led to his impulsive behavior. “But stopping him from learning?” she said. “I’m still having a hard time believing that.”
For their part, Stafford County would not comment directly. They issued this statement: “Our discipline recommendations are not made in isolation and are consistent across the school division following our Student Code of Conduct. Our appeals process allows for students and parents to exercise their due process rights should they disagree with the principal’s recommendation.”
Tavia Thompson- who said her son has never been in any kind of serious trouble - wasn’t ready to ascribe racial motivations to the behavior of the school, although the local chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. said they would look into the matter.
Two days before the football game, she said she received a letter mail laden with racial slurs. “It’s been a crazy week,” she said.
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