| Columns |

Kiera Wilmot's Failed Science Experiment Brings Out the Racism

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. Today, Luke wants to see justice for Kiera Wilmot.

In Bartow, Florida, public school and law enforcement officials are committing a horrible injustice against an exceptionally gifted African-American teenager. By all accounts, 16-year-old Kiera Wilmot is a model honors student. She has good grades and has a perfect behavior record. She's not a kid who skips classes, fights her classmates and teachers, or pulls fire alarms for kicks.

The morning of April 22, before her first class, Kiera's scientific curiosity got the best of her when she mixed drain cleaner and aluminum foil inside a plastic bottle near a gazebo on the east side of Bartow High School. The reaction created a small explosion that popped the top off and produced some smoke. No one was hurt, and no damage was caused.

Yet assistant school principal Dan Durham, Polk County Schools police officer Gregory Rhoden, and Polk County assistant state attorney Tammy Glotfelty treated Wilmot like a suicide bomber. The poor girl was shackled in front of her peers and hauled off to the juvenile detention center on criminal charges of possession/discharge of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device. She's been expelled and will be tried as an adult. This is all because she conducted a science project that is no different from making liquid erupt from the top of a model volcano.

Even if Wilmot beats the charges, she now has a record that will wreck her future. She'll have to get a diploma through an expulsion program. No Ivy League school will give her chance. Thanks to Polk County Public Schools and the justice system, Wilmot will be lumped in with real criminals for the rest of her life.

Wilmot's ordeal has rallied thousands of supporters on internet sites like Reddit and from science teachers around the country. However, her story still hasn't garnered mainstream media attention or the outrage generated by George Zimmerman's killing of unarmed Miami Gardens teen Trayvon Martin last year.

Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and every ethic group in the United States should be circling the wagons for Wilmot. Her plight should remind us that we have a long way to go before children of all races are treated fairly and equally.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.