Family issues apology after 6th-grader recants claims that white classmates cut her dreadlocks

A 12-year-old girl who claimed that three classmates forcibly cut off her dreadlocks and called her hair “nappy” has now admitted to making up the allegations, according to a statement issued by her family and school.

The grandparents and guardians of Amari Allen, an African-American sixth-grader at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Va., had filed a police report with the Fairfax County Police Department after she spoke of being harassed and pinned down by three white male classmates during recess on Sept. 23. A representative for the local NAACP chapter also told Yahoo Lifestyle last week that her family would be meeting with an attorney.

“They put their hands on my back, they put their hand around my mouth, and they started to cut my hair,” the girl told WJLA, adding that the boys had allegedly made disparaging comments about her dreadlocks.

But she has since recanted the allegations.

“We can now confirm that the student who accused three of her classmates of assault has acknowledged that the allegations were false,” reads a statement sent to Yahoo Lifestyle on behalf of Stephen Danish, the head of school at Immanuel. “We’re grateful to the Fairfax County Police Department for their diligent work to investigate these allegations.

“While we are relieved to hear the truth and bring the events of the past few days to a close, we also feel tremendous pain for the victims and the hurt on both sides of this conflict. We recognize that we now enter what will be a long season of healing. This ordeal has revealed that we as a school family are not immune from the effects of deep racial wounds in our society. We view this incident as an opportunity to be part of a learning and healing process, and we will continue to support the students and families involved.

“We will also continue teaching what we’ve taught for more than 40 years: that the love of God is for all people, and as His children we should demonstrate that love equally to all people regardless of their background, what they believe or how they behave.”

The statement also included an apology from the Allen family, who expressed remorse for “betraying” the trust of those who supported them

“To those young boys and their parents, we sincerely apologize for the pain and anxiety these allegations have caused,” it reads. “To the administrators and families of Immanuel Christian School, we are sorry for the damage this incident has done to trust within the school family and the undue scorn it has brought to the school.

“To the broader community, who rallied in such passionate support for our daughter, we apologize for betraying your trust.

“We understand there will be consequences, and we’re prepared to take responsibility for them. We know that it will take time to heal, and we hope and pray that the boys, their families, the school and the broader community will be able to forgive us in time.”

The school, where second lady Karen Pence teaches art part-time, did not comment on whether or not Amari would face any formal punishment over the incident.

The Fairfax County NAACP chapter, meanwhile, has issued its own statement acknowledging the latest developments and asking for Amari’s privacy to be respected.

“Amari is not a public figure,” it reads. “She is a young girl who made a mistake, and we are asking everyone, supporters and critics alike, to please respect the family’s privacy at this time.”

The statement also urged the public to avoid using this instance to discount other “racially motivated crimes.”

“Too often in these rare instances of fabricated hate crimes, critics use a broad brush to claim racially motivated crimes are virtually non-existent,” it says. “This is demonstrably wrong. Data from numerous sources, including the Anti-Defamation League, the FBI and the Justice Department, shows bias motivated crimes are on the rise, year over year. The fact is that these type of fabrications are isolated incidents, but the public and media has a tendency to sensationalize falsifications over the thousands of real hate crimes reported every year.”

Update, 2:10 p.m.: This article has been updated to include the NAACP’s response.

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