DENVER (AP) — A Cub Scout was kicked out of his den after he questioned a Colorado state lawmaker about her position on gun control and previous comments she made about African-Americans’ health and eating fried chicken.
It was the latest political flashpoint for the Boy Scouts after President Donald Trump used his speech at the organization’s national jamboree in July to rail against “fake news” and former President Barack Obama and boast about beating Hillary Clinton.
Eleven-year-old Ames Mayfield posed the questions at an Oct. 9 event in Broomfield, between Denver and Boulder. Cub Scouts had been told to come prepared to talk to Republican state Sen. Vicki Marble about issues important to them.
Ames’ mother, Lori Mayfield, said a local scout leader later told her that the topic of gun control was inappropriate because of its political nature and that the boy’s questions were disrespectful.
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The Boy Scouts, which includes the Cub Scouts, refused to comment on why the boy was asked to leave but say he will remain in scouting after finding a new group.
“The Boy Scouts of America is a wholly nonpartisan organization and does not promote any one political position, candidate or philosophy,” the organization said Friday in a statement.
Cub Scouts is for children in the first through fifth grades. They meet in groups of children from the same grade called “dens,” which are part of larger “packs.”
Ames was only kicked out of his den, not the larger pack. Since the other available den met while he attends classes, changing to another den within the pack was not an option. He’s joining a den in a new pack at his church, his mother said.
The leaders of the group that kicked Ames out did not return phone messages and emails left by The Associated Press.
In online videos recorded by Lori Mayfield, the scouts asked questions about why people wanted to vote for Obama just because he was black and about Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. It was unclear which scouts asked the questions. Mayfield blurred the identities of all the children except for that of her son.
In the video showing Ames asking about gun control, he read from a printed sheet, telling the lawmaker that he was shocked that she sponsored a bill that allowed domestic violence offenders to own guns. He also rattled off a list of survey statistics about Americans’ views on the issue and spoke about the trouble Las Vegas shooting victims would have paying their bills.
“There is something wrong in our country where Republicans believe it’s a right to own a gun but a privilege to have health care. None of that makes sense to me,” he said.
After nearly 2½ minutes, an adult is heard cutting him off, remarking on his thorough question. Marble responds by talking about the need for “crime control” instead and saying that the Vegas shooting and the 2012 Aurora theater shooting both happened in “gun-free zones.”
Marble drew national attention in 2013 after she seemed to draw a link between the health of black people and eating fried chicken and barbecue in comments made during a legislative committee hearing. The head of the state Republican Party and others criticized her words.
She then issued a statement saying she was saddened that her comments were interpreted as disparaging.
During the scout meeting, Ames told Marble that he was “astonished that you blamed black people” for their health problems.
She replied, “I didn’t. That was made up by the media. So you want to believe it, you believe it, but that’s not how it went down.”
Marble went on to say Americans enjoy multicultural food but cautioned that people also need to consider whether they are predisposed to any diseases because of their genetic makeup.
In a statement Friday, Marble said she did not know about Ames’ dismissal until she read about it. She said she did not blame him because she thought there was an “element of manipulation involved” by his mother.
Mayfield denies that. She said she and her son, whom she said is gifted and likes to watch the news, researched Marble together, and she typed up his questions using his words. The mother questioned why the Scouts would chose to invite such a controversial lawmaker to speak.
The Boy Scouts and their Denver-area governing council said they were “pleased that the family will continue their participation in scouting,” the statement said. “We are committed to working with families to find local units that best fit their needs.”
Associated Press writers James Anderson in Denver and Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, Florida, contributed to this report.