I first learned of Kiera Wilmot’s story last night via a blog post by Kyle Munzenrieder. Here is how he recounted the incident in question:
Kiera Wilmot got good grades and had a perfect behavior record. She wasn’t the kind of kid you’d expect to find hauled away in handcuffs and expelled from school, but that’s exactly what happened after an attempt at a science project went horribly wrong.
On 7 a.m. on Monday, the 16 year-old mixed some common household chemicals in a small 8 oz water bottle on the grounds of Bartow High School in Bartow, Florida. The reaction caused a small explosion that caused the top to pop up and produced some smoke. No one was hurt and no damage was caused.
Prosecutors have charged her with several felonies and are considering potentially trying her as an adult. Read more from the post here.
I was outraged last night but then had to run to the police station overnight to address an issue that came up with a young person. I spent part of this morning searching for more information about the case. WTSP in Florida filed this report about the incident. The principal said that this was not a malicious act:
“She made a bad choice. Honestly, I don’t think she meant to ever hurt anyone. She wanted to see what would happen [when the chemicals mixed] and was shocked by what it did. Her mother is shocked too.”
For those who want to speak up and take action to rectify this outrage. You can do a few concrete things:
1. Someone has launched a petition demanding that charges be dropped against Kiera and that she be re-instated at her school. You can sign here.
2. You can contact FL State Attorney Jerry Hill and tell him not to prosecute 16 year old Kiera Wilmot as an adult. Call him at 863-534-4800 or email his office here.
I personally called the office this afternoon and spoke to a woman who said that the case is still under investigation and that the office would have no comments at this time. I let them know that the entire country is watching to see what they will do. I expressed my outrage that they would consider charging her with felonies and as an adult.
3. You can also call the school district’s Superintendent: Dr. John Stewart –(863) 534-0521 to ask that he intervene on Kiera’s behalf and ask law enforcement to drop the charges. Ask him to re-instate Kiera in school.
4. To learn more about the increasing criminalization of black girls at school, read Monique Morris report.
5. For those who are interested in reading in greater depth about the criminalization of black & brown youth in the U.S., I put together a short bibliography of articles to read a couple of years ago here.
There are some updates to the story that can be found here.