Breaking Brown

March 11, 2014

Another Black Student Kicked Out of School After Wave Misinterpreted as Gang Sign

Another Black Student Kicked Out of School After Wave Misinterpreted as Gang Sign
Credit: NBC News

Credit: NBC News

If you don’t believe that America’s education system is geared toward derailing the success of black youth, then look no further than 15 year old Mississippi teen  Dontadrian Bruce, who was suspended from school for waving.

In early February, Dontadrian was sent to the principal’s office, who then informed the 15 year old that he was being suspended over a photo he’d posted for a biology project in which he had three fingers raised. To the laymen’s eye, Dontadrian appears to be waving for the camera, but to principal Todd Nichols, who has no law enforcement background that we know of, Dontadrian’s wave was a gang sign.

“You’re suspended,” Nichols said, “because you’re holding up gang signs in this picture.”

You’d think once the school’s disciplinary committee convened, they would’ve corrected the principal’s harsh rush to judgement, but instead, they doubled down, recommending  “indefinite suspension with a recommendation of expulsion.”

Dontadrian says he was told that his hand gesture was associated with the Vice Lords gang, but he had no idea when he took the photo. He says he was holding up the number 3 to represent the number on his jersey.

“He’s a good child…..I know what he does 24 hours a day,” said his mother, Janet Hightower.

What is most repulsive about this case is that Dontadrian was assumed guilty almost immediately and school officials handed down the harshest punishment possible.

Dontadrian’s stepfather says this would not have happened to a white student.

“I was born and raised here, graduated from Olive Branch, and I’m telling you: they would have done nothing.”

Sadly, this is nothing new.  In January, BreakingBrown reported the case of two suspended Wisconsin high school basketball players for using gang signs.

The school suspended the boys and even contacted police who opened an investigation, all over this picture:



The signs that the boys were making when they posed for The Sheboygan Falls News article were actually 3 point signs, like those made by Lebron James and others, but that didn’t help their case with school officials.

Dontadrian was eventually allowed back to school, but his mother is working with the ACLU to ensure that her son’s record isn’t impacted by this incident.

h/t: PolicyMic



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4 thoughts on “Another Black Student Kicked Out of School After Wave Misinterpreted as Gang Sign

  1. NAHMEANSON101 says:

    You always see Black fathers who are quick to speak Truth and let the world know that the slaying of their sons and the injustice that follows are ALL racially motivated but the mothers will turn around and say “this is not about race” every time..just saying..this is why in the Trayvon Martin case and Jordan Davis case you never see Black male jurors..I’m glad this father exploited these white supremacist..just like the Black father in GA did when his son was killed and organs stolen..Jordan Davis father flash to those delusional ones..we will NEVER live in a post-racial is impossible to do so living amongst sub-hue-man creatures……….

  2. SherelleGriffin says:

    So students can’t hold their own fingers anyway they choose?  Just  because a gang uses their fingers to represent something for them that should not determine the freedom of law-abiding students. That is stupid.  Almost everyone is born with fingers and should be able to point them in anyway that is not derogatory.

  3. GaryGraefen says:

    This has me so OutRAGED I wrote the guy who suspended him and the school board district–if you feel the way I do-Write this ass at work!

  4. jsaltsman27 says:

    I believe the punishments in both cases were very harsh and should be adjusted. The rise of gangs in any society is always a fear and when the authority is not properly trained then it can easily grow out of control. They need to make clear to their students what kind of gestures are and are not allowed, and stick by those. I know we had the same rules in effect and regardless of race, grade or disability the same punishment applied. If we are investing in our kids, how to live by the rules and laws outside of school, ignorance of the law does not excuse the crime or erase the punishment.

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