Five Florida students who beat a 14-year-old classmate on a school bus — allegedly for wearing a Trump campaign hat to school earlier this year — have been charged with battery in the incident, according to the Daily Mail.
The victim in the attack, known only as Tyler because he is minor, was reportedly bullied “relentlessly” before the attack on Nov. 21 because he wore a Trump 2020 hat to school. He was treated at the hospital for head contusions.
The five students who beat him were black, and Tyler is white, but the Florida State Attorney’s office said they did not recommend that the incident be considered a hate crime.
Battery is a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida. The students were also suspended from school after Tyler’s mother called police and reported the incident to the school.
A violent attack
A video of the attack showed the five students surrounding Tyler and repeatedly hitting him with their hands. Tyler put his hands up over his head to try to protect himself.
While many outlets have reported otherwise, school superintendent Rex L. Mitchell denied that Tyler’s choice of headwear motivated the attack in a press release that addressed widespread social media posts claiming that the beating was because of his wearing the Trump hat.
“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. There was no evidence found during the investigation that indicated the…wearing of such apparel on a prior occasion motivated the incident,” the statement read, according to the Daily Mail.
Mitchell said the incident started with a verbal argument between two students, which was not shown in the videos posted on social media. School officials reportedly reviewed bus camera footage that gave additional information about the incident.
Tyler’s mother said he continues to be upset about the beating and is “crying most days.” She said he bought the Trump hat with his own money and was proudly wearing it to school when the bullying started.
“He was getting hit, tripped [and] verbally abused on the bus, but it all came to a head yesterday on his bus ride home,” she said of the incident.
She is considering homeschooling him or moving to a different county.
She started a GoFundMe page to raise money for laptop computers and supplies for homeschooling for Tyler and another son. It has raised $2,600 so far, according to the Daily Mail.