[Media prompt] The speaker, who is wearing a Black Lives Matter sweatshirt, isn’t identified by name but says at one point, “I am a pre-school teacher who is going to fucking radicalise mother-fucking four year olds and five year olds.” This brings a huge cheer from the crowd.
The Radicalisation of Jack Robinson
When a knock on the door interrupted the morning maths lesson with her son Jack, Caroline Robinson told him to continue finding solutions using the Cuisenaire rods in the box while she went to answer it. Jack looked at his mother’s worksheet and, placing a purple four and a yellow five in the space provided, set about finding the rod that would solve the problem. There was no need to pick more than one; he knew it was the blue rod at once. As Caroline smiled, her visitor rapped on the door again, a little louder and longer than the first time.
Because she had guessed it was Mrs. Marshall, a widow next door who sometimes visited on the pretext of asking for a cup of sugar or flour, she was surprised to see a tall, dark-suited man flanked by two police officers.
“Mrs. Robinson?” said the man in the suit. “Caroline Robinson?”
Caroline stepped onto the welcome mat, half closing the door behind her. She nodded.
“Speak up,” said one of the officers, a black woman with a metal stud piercing one nostril.
“Yes,” said Caroline.
“Yes, I’m Caroline Robinson,” said the black woman.
The street was quiet, the mid-morning sun already bright and hot. She squinted and raised a hand to shade her eyes. Caroline noticed the guttering on one of the houses across the road needed repainting. She repeated what the black policewoman said.
“And you are the mother of Jack Robinson, who also resides at this address?” said the man in the suit.
“I’m sorry,” said Caroline. “Who are you? And what is this about?”
The black policewoman hawked up a lump of sputum, spitting it onto one of the hydrangea plants that lined the path from the front door to the street. It landed on the only flower to have blossomed so far. The man in the suit nodded at the man standing on his other side, taking a step back.
The officer, a white male with tattooed arms too thick for the short-sleeved shirt he wore, unsheathed his truncheon, and swung it hard against the side of Caroline’s knee. She fell, a result of the blow but also the consequence of her attempt at avoiding it, and landed heavily on her outstretched hands. It felt like that time at the beach last year when a wave had knocked her off her feet and she was unable to tell which way was up; only this was more painful.
Caroline heard a muffled voice, then a scream, which she thought might be her own, but as she lay on the brick path it became louder, and she realised it was Jack.
Fighting to her feet, stumbling as her knee gave way, she clawed at the tattooed arm of the man holding her son. The black officer jabbed her in the soft spot just below the left breast with her night stick. Caroline crumpled.
“This is your first and only warning, Mrs. Caroline Robinson,” said the man in the suit, looking down at her. The sun behind his head made it seem his blond hair was ringed with gold.
“Home schooling is forbidden. You must have faith in the state. We know what’s best for your child.”
The last sound she heard before passing out was Jack howling as they buckled him into the back seat of a squad car.