Girl Sent To ISS For Incident Speaks To KLTV - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/9/2008-Athens

Girl Sent To ISS For Incident Speaks To KLTV

Athens residents we spoke to Wednesday were shocked at the news Melanie Bowers' entire story was made up.

"For her to make it up it is just unbelievable, blows my mind," said Laurie Caves, area resident.

"I think she ought to be prosecuted against," said Athens resident Michael Kyle.

13-year-old Melanie Bowers is seen on the school's surveillance cameras scratching herself, and another student is seen taking her sign and throwing it away. Gaby Barrios was one of the students placed on in-school suspection in connection with the incident.

"I feel that I was discriminated against," said Gaby.

Gaby told KLTV 7 News the same thing the tape shows - she never touched Melanie. Nobody did.

"They were passing the sign around at school. I saw it. I just got up to ask her about it. Nothing else, nothing more," said Gaby. "They placed me in ISS because they accused me of hitting her, scratching her and threatening her, when I didn't do that. I didn't touch her. I didn't do anything to her. To me they put me in ISS for something I didn't do."

Gaby's mother didn't speak much English, but said through an interpreter she is humiliated and thinks her daughter was targeted because of her race.

"She's very upset that the little girl lied, you know?. Being the fact that she's Hispanic, what the sign said - it's very offensive to Mexican people."

A problem that both Gaby's aunt and former students say has been at the school for a long time.

"All these schools - they discriminate against all the Mexicans. Always," said Maricela Cerrillo, Gaby's aunt.

"There is a pretty big racial comments. Everybody in our school calls each other the N word and the Mexican people call each other the W-word," said Athens High School junior Kevin Till. "There have been 4 or 5 fights over racial stuff at our school. It's ridiculous."

These tensions weigh heavily on Gaby's cousin, who will be at Athens Middle School next year.

"The Mexicans, if they do something, they blame it all on them and on the white girls they can do whatever they want. They never tell them anything," said Vernice Cerrillo, Gaby's cousin.

Now there is some relief from the girl at the center of all this - happy that the truth finally came out.

"I feel much better because it's not all on us that 'Oh, well the Hispanics did it, so I guess they're the bad people here,' when we're not the  bad people," said Gaby.

Danielle Capper, Reporting dcapper@kltv.com

 

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