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[9/30/16]  A 14-year-old African American boy eligible for free lunches is facing criminal charges over accusations that he stole a carton of milk at school. The boy’s family denies he stole the milk, alleging he was unfairly singled out by a school police officer.

This week, a judge in Prince William County, Virginia, set a November trial date for Ryan Turk, now a freshman in high school, who was arrested and charged in May with two misdemeanors, disorderly conduct and petit larceny, after a school resource officer alleged that the boy cut in line during lunch at Graham Park Middle School and stole a 65-cent carton of milk.

The case highlights the so-called school-to-prison pipeline, which associates increased criminalization of minor infractions at schools with mass incarceration, as well as disproportionate rates of discipline levied against students of color and concerns over the role of police officers in schools.

Ryan and his mother, Shamise Turk, have said he did nothing wrong by taking a milk, one they say he was entitled to. And though the school resource officer who apprehended and handcuffed Ryan for the alleged infraction is also black, they and their lawyer say Ryan’s treatment is related to institutional racism that targets black youth.

“No one needs to be punished for stealing a 65-cent carton of milk,” said Emmett Robinson, a lawyer for the family, according to the Washington Post. “This officer treats kids like they’re criminals, and guess what happens — they’re going to become criminals.”…CONTINUE READING