Two brothers and former Cabot High School students have sued the Cabot School District and two district administrators in federal court, alleging their civil rights were violated.
The complaint filed by Kameron and Noah Evans recounts that the brothers, who were born in Cambodia and were adopted by an Arkansas family, were relentlessly subjected to racial bullying that Cabot school administrators knew about and failed to address. The lawsuit names the Cabot School District, Cabot School District Superintendent Tony Thurman and Cabot High School Principal Henry Hawkins as defendants.
Thurman declined comment in an email.
In 2018, when the brothers were juniors at Cabot High School, they were arrested and charged by the Cabot Police Department with disorderly conduct for wearing military-style vests. Neither of the boys had weapons; one explained that he was wearing it because he liked the pockets. According to the complaint, the arrest of the brothers was initiated by Hawkins, who also suspended them for 10 days and recommended expulsion. KARK/KLRT reporter Mitch McCoy covered the brothers’ arrest at the time. The brothers were later tried and acquitted on disorderly conduct charges.
— Mitchell McCoy (@MitchellMcCoy) February 14, 2018
The lawsuit also, among other allegations, contends that the brothers were racially discriminated against and that their First and Fourteenth Amendments were violated.
It describes racist language to which the Evans were subjected:
Since junior high school and through the 2017-18 school year, Plaintiffs endured name-calling because of their perceived race and/or ethnicity. As they recall, they were called “nigger,” “bla-sian” ( combining “black” with “Asian”), “jap,” “chink,” and “gook,” among other things. They have been called “terrorists.” They have been asked to show their “green card” and told “go back where you came from” and “you don’t belong here.” Other students would say to them “Allah Akbar,” a phrase CSD students associated with Islamic extremist suicide bombers.
After being subjected to racist bullying, Kameron Evans heard the message of Black Lives Matter and it resonated with him, the lawsuit states. When he posted on social media supporting Colin Kaepernick and other athletes kneeling during the national anthem and then began wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt to school, the bullying only intensified, according to the suit. It says that when Kameron and his mother, Kerri Evans, met with Principal Hawkins about the bullying, he told them “you can’t go around Cabot High School saying things like that,” referring to Kameron’s support of Black Lives Matter and Kaepernick.
The report notes that in the 2017/2018 school year, 98 percent of the teachers in the Cabot School District were white and 87 percent of students were identified as white.