Jordan and Juwaun Jackson have been suspended from Sheboygan Falls High School because of a picture (with their brother Jamal) in a local newspaper that interviewed them about playing basketball.
The Sheboygan Falls, Wis. school district claims the two brothers were making hand gestures that “looked like” gang signs in a “goofing around” photo (video below).
The Sheboygan Falls News ran the "feel good" story and the “goofing around” photo on Jan. 1.
The boys were suspended because some parents claimed the brothers were making gang-related hand signs, but this came as a surprise to the boys.
Jordan says he did not know the "3" gesture was a gang symbol used by the Los Angeles-based "Bloods."
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"I had no idea," Jordan told TMJ 4. "They told us it meant blood."
"I did it like every other kid does it when they make a 3," added Jordan. "When you make a 3, everyone does this sign. You’ve probably seen LeBron James or someone do it. I did the 3 in the picture, and my little brother pointed at the camera.”
Police Chief Steve Riffel determined that the boys did make gang signs, but after investigating them, found no actual threat, reports WHBL.
Sheboygan Falls News Editor Jeff Pederson tried to calm the hysteria on Facebook today:
The sign made by Jordan Jackson (on the far left side of the photo) is also commonly used by NBA players, such as James Harden, Lebron James and Brandon Jennings, after making a 3-point shot. The good intentions surrounding a positive article about high school student-athletes adjusting to a new school and contributing to an SFHS sports program has somehow taken an ugly turn.
...In my 20 years in mainly small-town newspaper journalism, I have fielded plenty of complaints from readers. However, I have never seen anything published in a paper I have been a part of escalate to this very unfortunate and negative magnitude.
The Sheboygan Daily reports that the ACLU of Wisconsin condemned the overreaction of the school district and police department.
“It appears as if the Sheboygan Falls school district and police department are unprepared to respond to the increasing diversity in the schools in an appropriate and educationally sound manner,” said ACLU of Wisconsin Executive Director Chris Ahmuty.
“The ACLU will be seeking information from the schools in order to assess their compliance with pupil non-discrimination rules," added Ahmuty. "The ACLU asks the district to immediately make the brothers eligible to play in tomorrow’s game.”