An Inclusive Litany

12/6/99

After the school board of Decatur, Illinois, decided to expel six students for going on a violent rampage at a football game, Jesse Jackson appeared on the scene to denounce the application of zero-tolerance laws to what he regarded as a minor scuffle, "something silly, like children do." Jackson, however, had been terribly misinformed, as became obvious when a videotape of the horrifying gang melee turned up. Jackson, however, declared that the students, all of whom are black, were being singled out because of their race—explicitly linking Decatur to Selma, Alabama, and to the 1963 civil rights march on Washington. When the controversy initially started, an exasperated school superintendent Kenneth Arndt blurted out that three of the students were "third-year freshman" and that the group as a whole had missed more than 300 days of school. As a result, Jackson's allies sued the school for $30 million for breach of privacy.

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