South Carolina Teenager Allegedly Assaulted By Teacher For Protesting Pledge of Allegiance

South Carolina Teenager Allegedly Assaulted By Teacher For Protesting Pledge of Allegiance

A school district in South Carolina is being sued after a student claims a staff member assaulted her.

ABC News reports lawyers for the family of Marissa Barnwell, a student at River Bluff High School in Lexington, say the student was exercising her First Amendment rights when she decided to refrain from saying the Pledge of Allegiance. The lawsuit states an “instructional assistant physically assaulted Marissa before taking her to the principal’s office for punishment.”

According to the lawsuit, Barnwell silently walked to her class while the Pledge of Allegiance was playing on the intercom when she said the staffer pushed her to the wall and touched her with force to make her comply with saying the pledge. Surveillance video corroborates the story professed by the student. After attempting to work with the school about the incident, they received no answers, which prompted the federal lawsuit.

In a press conference, Barnwell’s mother, Fynale Barnwell, recalls her daughter calling her in tears about what happened. Marissa feels something should happen to the teacher as well. “I feel like something should have happened to the teacher, and the teacher should have been handled appropriately, where she is either arrested or fired,” the student said to The New York Times. “But nothing like that’s happened, and she still works there.”

The teacher in question has been identified as Nicole Livingston. According to Chief Communications Officer for Lexington School District One, Libby Roof, a response to the lawsuit “will be filed in the coming weeks.”

Representatives for Barnwell also stated that Livingston deprived Marissa of her constitutional rights, and the incident caused physical and emotional distress. Inspired by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protests, Barnwell says she hasn’t recited the pledge since the third grade as she doesn’t believe in the message, “liberty and justice for all.” As told by ABC News, South Carolina law states that the pledge must be said every day at school; however, those who choose otherwise can’t be punished.