Hamilton County, FL – A group of five students pummeled a 14-year-old classmate for having previously worn a Make America Great Again (MAGA) hat to school, according to the victim’s mother (video below).
The teen has also been a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, FOX News reported.
The attack occurred on a Hamilton County School District (HCSD) bus on Nov. 21, Superintendent Rex Mitchell said in a press release on Friday.
“I am sitting in the hospital with my 14 year old kid because he was just jumped by 8 black kids on the school bus, I guess that’s what happens when a kid wears a #Trump hat to school,” the boy’s mother tweeted on the day of the assault. “Earlier today they poured milk all over his head.”
The teen’s mother said her son purchased his MAGA hat at a flea market weeks before the attack.
“He was proud to wear it,” she wrote. “He wore it to School, but due to immediate bullying he put it away & didn’t wear it to school again, sadly the damage was already done & [he] was now a target.”
From that point forward, the teen was “steadily” bullied by his peers, his mother said in a later tweet.
“He was getting hit, tripped & verbally abused on the bus,” she said. “He didn’t tell us.”
On Dec. 6, the teen’s mother expressed outrage that police had refused label the incident as a hate crime.
“The police is not considering it a hate crime because everyone that jumped on him were related. Yeah, I don’t get it either,” she tweeted. “So if 5 white kids, all related, jumped a black child, no one would be screaming #HateCrime??? Double standards.”
However, even if the mother is correct about the reasons her son was attacked, it still wouldn’t constitute a hate crime.
On Dec. 12, one month after the attack, the boy’s mother posted cell phone footage of the incident to Twitter.
The video showed a girl repeatedly punching the seated 14-year-old boy while the bus drove down the road.
He tried to push her away, and threw several punches before the girl climbed on top of him and started pummeling him.
Other teens also threw punches at the teen during the melee.
The boy was not wearing his MAGA hat at the time of the assault, but had worn it days prior, the boy’s mother said.
The video has been viewed over 14 million times since it was posted to Twitter.
The five students who assaulted the boy were ultimately charged with misdemeanor battery, FOX News reported.
In the press release on Friday, Mitchell noted that the district investigated the incident immediately after it occurred, and that there was action taken against the involved students.
“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,” Mitchell wrote. “There was no evidence found during the investigation that indicated the student was wearing any of this apparel at the time of the altercation or that his wearing of such apparel on a prior occasion motivated the incident.”
The superintendent said that the fight began as a “verbal altercation,” and that it “escalated when additional students became involved.”
He also pointed out that, while the video shared online captured a small portion of what occurred, investigators had access to security footage from the school bus.
That video showed “not only the altercation, but all events prior to the altercation and its conclusion,” Mitchell added.
The superintendent said that the assault was an isolated incident.
“This was a very unfortunate incident that we take very seriously as the safety and welfare of the students is always our top priority,” Mitchell said. “Maintaining order on a school bus is a very difficult task. We use as many bus aides as possible to assist with maintaining a safe environment for the students.”
Mitchell said that, despite the district’s “immediate action,” the way the incident has been portrayed has brought negative attention to its staff and students.
“This was a very unfortunate incident completely unrelated to any political statements or agendas,” Mitchell reiterated. “However, we will continue to evaluate our safety procedures to prevent a future event and ensure the safety of all students in the Hamilton County School District.”
The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) did not discuss allegations that the attack was or was not related to the teen’s MAGA hat, but noted that there seemed to be “some misinformation” that had been “passed along” with the now-viral video, according to a Facebook post on Friday.
HCSO confirmed that the incident did not meet criteria to be considered a hate crime.
You can watch the viral cell phone footage of the altercation in the video below: