Five Florida students are facing charges after a viral video shows a group beating a 14-year-old boy on the back of a school bus — an attack the boy’s parents claim happened because he wore a “Trump 2020” hat to school.
The incident sparked national attention after video of the attack was shared on social media this week. Video of the November 21 attack showed the boy sitting by himself in the back of a bus and coming under attack first by a female student and then by several others, who punched and kicked the boy as he did little to fight back. The video did not show what sparked the fight.
As the Daily Mail reported, the beating took place in Hamilton County, and this week the Hamilton County School District released a statement saying that the incident was already investigated and the students involved were disciplined. The district worked with the sheriff’s department for criminal referral, and the office announced that the students in the video were charged with first-degree misdemeanor battery.
Some called for hate crime charges for the group of attackers, saying that the school bus beating was racially motivated. The victim, identified only as Tyler, is white, while his attackers appeared to be black. The boy’s parents later posted on Twitter claiming that he had been harassed and bullied for wearing a Trump hat to school.
As the New York Post noted, the parents said that the boy was hospitalized and that nurses found bruising on his arm that had come from before the attack. She claimed that the boy had been targeted for some time by other students.
“He didn’t tell us about the bullying, but they took it to a new level yesterday and we are just now learning what he was going through,” she wrote.
I am sitting in the hospital with my 14 year old kid because he was just jumped by 8 black kids on the school bus, I guess that's what happens when a kid wears a #Trump hat to school. And who's the violent ones again? Earlier today they poured milk all over his head. pic.twitter.com/fS3BfBJnOa— American Diaries (@AmericanDiaries) November 21, 2019
But Superintendent Rex L. Mitchell said there was no evidence that the boy’s hat or political affiliation were motivating factors in the attack.
“It is implied in the post that the altercation occurred because one of the students involved was wearing a political hat showing support for President Trump,” he said in a statement. “There was no evidence found during the investigation that indicated the student was wearing any of this apparel at the time of the altercation or that his wearing of such apparel on a prior occasion motivated the incident.”
The Florida State Attorney’s office also said the attack did not meet the threshold to be considered a hate crime.
The students charged in the bus attack were not named.