Sam Houston middle school student Jacob Herrera, age 14, was asked by an officer at his school’s football game last Wednesday to remove a rosary the teen was wearing around his neck outside his clothing. Herrera refused and that is when things began to spin out of control.
According to witness, Marivell Chavez, Corporal Wilson of the Amarillo Police Department handcuffed Herrera, walked him across the street and repeatedly slammed the student to the ground.
The police department says that Herrera resisted arrest and that the rosaries sometimes symbolize gang affiliation, which is why students are not permitted to wear them “visibly” on school property or at school functions.
According to APD the use of rosaries can possibly symbolize association with a gang and that’s the reason they ask students to not wear them visible while on school property or functions.
‘We are not indicating that this is the case in this particular incident but that sometimes our youth are using rosary beads as a sign of gang affiliation or some gang apparel again we are not saying that’s what it is, but we have seen it with others here in the united states,’ says Cpl Neufeld.
In the Amarillo ISD dress and grooming guidelines, there is not a specific rule on whether students can wear rosaries. But there is a line that states students can not wear identified gang apparel by law enforcement agencies….
The school sent out notices informing parents that an incident occurred when one of their students violated the school’s dress code in a manner “considered to be gang related” by law enforcement.
Lori Martinez, Herrera’s mother who lost a son a few years ago, pointed out that being part of a gang has nothing to do with her son wearing the rosary around his neck, “the rosary has much more sentimental value…”
Well, that went well because the next day parents and students wore rosaries in protest of the teen’s arrest and while demanding his release of from a youth center. H/t Intellihub.
UPDATE #1: Herrera was released last Friday from the youth center.
UPDATE #2: Lori Martinez who accuses the police of using excessive force organized a “Justice for Jacob” protest yesterday. Protesters wore rosaries.
‘We are exercising our constitutional rights for freedom of religion in america and freedom of speech,’ says Pastor Shane Hessey.
Pastor Shane Hessey who helped organize the event, flew in from Nashville after seeing our story online to support the Herrera family. Pastor Hessey says this incident worries him. ‘We as Christians have lost our rights in America and are continuing to lose rights, there’s no prayer in school. If we are not teaching our children about God and the love of God, what is the future?’