A California high school student is facing criminal charges after she reportedly snatched a classmate’s “Make America Great Again” hat and threw it on the ground before slapping a teacher in the arm, according to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office. Following a profanity-laced tirade, the 17-year-old was arrested on Monday.
The student was identified as Jo-Ann Butler by local media, though the sheriff’s office did not release her name “due to the age of all involved,” USA Today reported. The Union Mine High School student has been suspended for a week over the incident. Butler also faces two counts of battery — one against the classmate from whom she reportedly grabbed the MAGA hat and another against her English teacher, whom she slapped as he escorted her out of the classroom in an altercation captured on a cell phone, according to Fox News.
According to the sheriff’s office, Butler “began verbally berating another student, because they were wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat,” according to USA Today‘s report.
The student told a local TV station that the MAGA hat is “a racist and hateful symbol,” adding that she took out her anger at the student to “wake people up in some type of way, because it’s not cool the environment our classroom is in,” Fox News reported.
In the video, Butler can be seen swatting the hat off in the classroom and an argument can be heard before the English teacher tries to intervene and take her out of the room. The teacher told Butler to leave the classroom after she threw her classmate’s hat to the ground, but she returned and grabbed the hat a second time, USA Today reported.
The school district’s policy allows students to wear gear with political messages, according to the Fox News report.
Addressing local news reporters, the teenage girl’s father said he in no way approves of the way his daughter handled the situation but said understands why she finds the accessory distasteful.
“I don’t agree with grabbing someone’s hat and verbally talking to them in that way,” he said, as reported by The Daily Mail. “But as far as the issue being brought up, maybe this is something that needs to be brought up.”
In a statement, the school district said it would cooperate with the sheriff’s office investigation and added, “student and staff safety is our highest priority,” as quoted in the USA Today report. The El Dorado County District Attorney is expected to formally charge Butler later this week.