Before a group of Cub Scouts met with a Colorado state legislator earlier this month, they were told to come prepared with questions. Eleven-year-old Ames Mayfield had his printed out and ready to go.
At the Oct. 9 meeting, just eight days after the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Ames asked Republican state Sen. Vicki Marble why she would not support “common-sense gun laws.”
“I was shocked that you co-sponsored a bill to allow domestic violence offenders to continue to own a gun,” Ames said.
He then asked: “Why on earth would you want somebody who beats their wife to have access to a gun? There’s something wrong in our country where Republicans believe it’s a right to own a gun but a privilege to have health care.”
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He also asked about previous comments Marble allegedly made about African-Americans’ health and eating fried chicken, according to The Associated Press.
Five days after the event in Broomfield, Colo., Lori Mayfield told The New York Times, a Cub Scouts official kicked her son out of his den.
“He let me know in so many words that the den leader was upset about the topic of gun control,” Mayfield told the Times over the weekend. “It was too politically charged.
“He communicated that my son was no longer welcome back to the den.”
The Boy Scouts refused to say why Ames was asked to leave his den, The Associated Press reported.
He was kicked out of the den, not the larger “pack,” and has already joined a new den at his church, said his mother, who videotaped her son at the meeting with Marble.
“I am really heartbroken that my den leader, which I really felt like I had a pretty good relationship with, decided to kick me out,” Ames told 9 News in Denver.
The Boy Scouts released a statement about the situation last week.
“The BSA and the Denver Area Council are committed to working with families interested in Scouting to find local units that are the best fit for their children,” it read.
“It is important to note that the Scout is still part of the Cub Scout pack, and we are working with the family to offer the Scout options that will allow him to continue his Scouting experience in a way that fits his and his family’s needs.”
Mayfield told 9 News that it wasn’t right for a child to be banned for asking a tough question, which she said he wrote himself. “Most certainly, the punishment far exceeds any crime, if there was one, and I don’t think there was one,” she said.
According to The New York Times, the scouts at the meeting asked Marble about a range of current, controversial topics, including fracking and the wall between the United States and Mexico. Some were curious about why people wanted to vote for Barack Obama just because he was black.
After Ames asked about Marble about gun control — reading his question from a piece of paper — she defended her stance on gun ownership, pointing out the shooting in Las Vegas happened in a so-called gun-free zone. The more guns a society has, she told the scouts, “the less crime or murders are committed.”
But the question that grabbed local media coverage was the one Ames asked Marble about controversial remarks she made in 2013 at a meeting with other legislators while discussing health issues among black people.
“I was astonished that you blamed black people for poor health and poverty because of all the chicken and barbecue they eat,” Ames told Marble.
“I didn’t,” she responded. “That was made up by the media. So, you want to believe it? You believe it. But that’s not how it went down. I didn’t do that. That was false. Get both sides of the story.”
In an editorial last week, The Denver Post slammed Marble for lying to a Cub Scout.
Her comments were widely reported, and widely criticized, when she made them in 2013. At the time she issued a statement saying she was saddened that her comments were interpreted as disparaging.
“When you look at life expectancy, there are problems in the black race,” Marble said in 2013. “Sickle-cell anemia is something that comes up. Diabetes is something that’s prevalent in the genetic makeup, and you just can’t help it.
“Although I’ve got to say, I’ve never had better barbecue and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down South and you, I mean, I love it. Everybody loves it.”
The legislator said in a statement on Friday she didn’t know Ames had been kicked out of his den until she saw the media reports. She suggested Mayfield had manipulated her son, a charge the mom denied.
Mayfield told The New York Times her son, whom she described as gifted, likes to watch the news. She said she typed up his questions and printed them out for him, but the words were his.