Tuesday, October 27, 2015

School Police Violence in South Carolina: Is This the America We Live In? Yes, Yes It Is.

No excuse for this, no matter what anyone says.

(Updated below.)

We will keep going through this until everyone in America -- at least those that don't believe that "those other people have it coming" -- stands up and says enough is enough.

The cell-phone video era is upon us, and there will be increasing examples of cops caught on tape. They have been doing this for decades upon decades, and it's jarring to have it in our faces almost nightly when something like this goes viral.

The Week magazine offered these details:
"The student was told she was under arrest for disturbing school and given instructions which she again refused," Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told NBC affiliate WIS. "The video then shows the student resisting and being arrested by the SRO." A Richland County Sheriff's Department spokesperson said the female student and a male student were both arrested for disturbing the peace. The officer, identified by the department as Ben Fields, has been placed on administrative leave.
In a statement, the Richland Two Black Parents Association said the incident is "unacceptable" and "egregious," and shows "the intolerance that continues to be of issue in Richland School District Two particularly with families and children of color. As we have stated in the past, we stand ready to work in collaboration to address these horrible acts of violence and inequities among our children." District superintendent Debbie Hamm said she is "deeply concerned" by what happened, and the district will "not tolerate any actions that jeopardize the safety of our students."
Yet another disturbing example of both the current "style" of law enforcement, especially against minorities, and the lack of training of alternative approaches.

We will keep seeing this. Is this the America you want to live in?

Note. This has nothing to do with the extra steps a police officer should be allowed to take to effect the arrest of a violent suspect, so don't offer that as a justification. I'm not suggesting police don't have the right to force a threatening suspect to comply with an arrest order. This is about finding non-violent solutions to the "she disrespected me!" claim. Grow up, law enforcement, and learn how to police non-violent situations. You're part of the problem. The video below appears to make that clear.

Niya Kelly stood up for her and was arrested for "disturbing schools." As her mother said, "Who was really disturbing school, was it my daughter or was it the officer who came into the classroom and did that to the young girl?"

Update. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott tells reporters that the student hit the officer in the head. A good look at the video does show the student flailing without effect at the officer but not until after he had grabbed her by the neck and begun to throw her violently to the ground.

I suggest that officers using excessive force invite self-defense, which is often then used to charge their victims with resisting arrest. In fact, many altercations result in nothing but resisting arrest charges, begging the question, what was the original offense?

Here's a story from NBC News that covers this followup story well, with video. Officer Ben Fields has attracted attention in the past for his violent response to situations, earning the nickname "officer slam." I was pleased that he was suspended without pay. We'll see what happens.

Update 2. A video from the NYTimes shows the ineffectual swing clearly, and clearly it was after the officer began his violent attack.

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