Let’s recall the oddball case of Kiera Wilmot, a 16-year-old African American girl who was recently expelled from Bartow High School in Florida for causing a chemical reaction inside a plastic water bottle.
Though she reportedly meant no harm (and caused none whatsoever), the honor roll student was charged with “possession/discharge of a weapon on school grounds,” as well as with “discharging a destructive device.” Both of these charges, explains the Huffington Post, are felonies. These charges were advised by Assistant State Attorney Tammy Glotfelty.
As noted in the official police report, Officer Gregory Rhoden:
CONTACTED ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY TAMMY GLOTFELTY VIA TELEPHONE. I ADVISED A.S.A GLOTFELTY OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE AND SHE ADVISED THIS OFFICER TO FILE THE CHARGES OF, POSSESSING OR DISCHARGING WEAPONS OR FIREARMS AT A SCHOOL SPONSORED EVENT OR ON SCHOOL PROPERTY F.S.S. 790.115 (1) AND MAKING, POSSESSING, THROWING, PROJECTING, PLACING, OR DISCHARGING ANY DESTRUCTIVE DEVICE F.S.S. 790.161 (A).
Now, let’s turn around and take a look at the story of Taylor and Skyler Richardson, two white children. “On March 13th,” writes News One, “[Taylor] Richardson and his fourth-grade brother, Skyler, were reportedly playing with BB guns, when Taylor’s BB gun went off. The BB reportedly entered Skyler’s head just above his right ear and traveled across his skull to the left side.” Skyler was rushed to the hospital, and died one week later.
"Our office has considered this case, keeping in mind that (Taylor) is 13 years of age and is a student at Roosevelt Academy," says a letter from Glotfelty to Polk County Sheriff's Detective Ernest Fulcher."After a thorough review of the facts available to our office at this time,” the letter goes on, “it is our opinion that this case can only be seen as a tragic accident.”
Now, as far as Wilmot goes, it seems that even the principal of Bartow High School understands that Wilmot made a simple, harmless mistake by performing her little experiment on school grounds. "She made a bad choice. Honestly, I don't think she meant to ever hurt anyone," says Principal Ron Pritchard. "She wanted to see what would happen [when the chemicals mixed] and was shocked by what it did."
As WHBC News Detroit wonders: “Why hit her with adult felony charges when she’s never had any disciplinary problems prior to this accident? Why treat her the way you would some sort of terrorist with malicious intent?”
The cases unfortunately seem to come down not to logical, open-minded understanding of these individuals and their circumstances, but rather an opinion based on, well, who knows.