An eighth grader was allegedly manhandled by police in Amarillo, Texas in October because of his rosary prayer beads. The civil liberties organisation, the Rutherford Institute, is speaking out about the treatment of 14-year-old Jacob Herrera at a Sam Houston Middle School football game.
Because of gang violence, the Amarillo Police Department have banned students from wearing rosary beads on school property. Herrera, however, received an exception from his principal because the rosary was a gift from the teen’s deceased brother. The rules were that he was only allowed to wear it under his clothing during school and outside of his clothing at football games.
Herrera’s mother, Lori Martinez, told a CBS affiliate, “My son passed away two years ago, 2012, and he was teaching Jacob, you know about God and how you know, he should wear the rosary to protect him. So Jacob believes that the rosary protects him, and it’s of his remembrance to his brother.”
On October 29, Herrera attended a middle school football game. He had the rosary exposed and was approached by an Amarillo police officer. The officer ordered Herrera to immediately remove the rosary from around his neck. When the teen refused to remove the beads, he was told to put his hands behind his back. Herrera also refused that instruction.
A witness to the event, Marviell Chavez said,”You know, he handcuffed him, and then crossed him across the street right there and slammed him again and he repeatedly slammed the child on the floor,”
Rutherford Institute founder John Whitehead said the officer’s reaction was inappropriate. Whitehead believes excessive force was used.