Police in Laramie, Wyo., Cite Teen Girls Who Threw French Fries for 'Hurling Missiles'
Friday, February 01, 2008
LARAMIE, Wyo. — Three 13-year-old girls accused of throwing french fries during lunchtime at their school were cited for "hurling missiles," an adult infraction covered by city ordinances.
The principal of Laramie Junior High and a police officer had warned students during an assembly the day before the french fries' launch that if they threw food, they had to suffer the consequences, Police Chief Bob Deutsch said. The warning came after school officials had heard rumors of an impending food fight.
"They saw it as really the planning of a riot, when you think about it," Deutsch said.
The girls decided to test the warning, he said.
"It wasn't a spontaneous thing -- a couple of kids giggling, throwing a french fry at each other," Deutsch said. "They intended on getting everybody involved in this and starting something that no doubt would have the potential of getting out of control."
Now, some observers are saying police and school officials went overboard, and even the American Civil Liberties Union weighed in.
"It certainly seems that this was an overreaction to a situation that could have been handled differently," said Linda Burt, Wyoming director of the ACLU.
The girls were also suspended for three days.
City prosecutor Ashley Castor didn't return phone messages left Thursday and Friday. Principal Steve Hoff declined to comment, and schools Superintendent Brian Recht did not return messages.