Dani Elliott was at work last month in Colorado Springs, Co., when her 12-year-old son’s vice principal called with alarming news: A police officer was on the way to her house because her son had played with a toy gun during his virtual art class. Elliott was terrified, especially considering her son is Black, the Washington Post reports. “I never thought: ‘You can’t play with a Nerf gun in your own home because somebody may perceive it as a threat and call the police on you,’” Elliott said. Her son, Isaiah, was suspended for five days and now has a record with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. His school paperwork says he brought a “facsimile of a firearm to school” — even though he was in his own home doing a virtual class. The “gun” was obviously a toy, painted black and green with “Zombie Hunter” on the side.
Elliott lashed out at the school, arguing that it was irresponsible to call police given the frequency of police violence against Black people. “With the cultural events going on right now, especially for young African Americans, … calling the police and telling them that he could have a gun, you put his life in jeopardy,” Elliott said. The school said that while there has been false information spreading online, it can’t provide details on what happened, citing privacy laws. “We never have or ever will condone any form of racism or discrimination,” the statement said. “Safety will always be number one for our students and staff. We follow … safety protocols consistently, whether we are in-person or distance learning.” Elliott learned of the trouble when Isaiah’s art teacher said she had notified the vice principal that her son, who has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, was distracted and playing with a gun, which she believed was fake.