Caden Cook, a sixth grade boy at Fredrick Funston Elementary School in Chicago, was reportedly interrogated, intimidated, and eventually suspended for turning in a non-firing toy gun he accidentally left in his pocket, CNS News reported Friday.
The Rutherford Institute came to Cook's defense, calling Chicago's school authorities overzealous, misguided and incapable of distinguishing between an impotent toy and a dangerous weapon.
According to the Rutherford Institute, Cook was also ordered to undergo counseling, subjected to intimidation tactics, interrogation and dire threats from school officials without his mother being present or informed.
“This case speaks volumes about what’s wrong with our public schools and public officials: rather than school officials showing they are capable of exercising good judgment, distinguishing between what is and is not a true threat, and preserving safety while steering clear of a lockdown mindset better suited to a prison environment, they instead opted to exhibit poor judgment, embrace heavy handed tactics, and treat a toy gun like a dangerous weapon,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of "A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State."
“In the process, school officials sent a strong, chilling message to this child and his classmates that they have no rights in the American police state," he added.
According to the account provided by Rutherford, the school had instituted a policy of random searches for items considered contraband. Cook, realizing he had accidentally left the toy in a sweater, alerted school officials.
Instead of recognizing that Cook was trying to do the right thing, Rutherford said, officials accused Cook of lying and threats, subjecting the young boy to interrogation and intimidation.
Cook's mother was later berated by school officials for allowing the boy to play with toy guns.
In a letter sent to Chicago Public Schools Director John Price, the Rutherford Institute said that thanks to the school's actions, the young boy is suffering nightmares and has lost all trust in school officials.
Whitehead said the school can rectify the situation by lifting the suspension and removing all references to the incident from the boy's record.
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