Police brutality has taken much-needed steps into the public spotlight over the last couple of years. Despite that fact, the outrageous trend of Police Officers brutalizing citizens not only continues, but the apparent marathon of video recorded incidents of police use of excessive force seems to be growing more grotesque in nature.
Just as much of social media, and the internet over the last couple of days, I’ve watched Richland County Sheriffs Deputy Ben Fields, a School Resource Officer, or SRO at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina, arresting a female student over, and over again – each time with just as much anger and disbelief as the previous.
Not much information has been released on the 18-year-old student, who was allegedly asked to leave her classroom by Mr. Robert Long, a 16 year veteran of Spring Valley High, and another school administrator after an unspecified “disruption”.
Do you really need information to be disgusted at what is irrefutably, a grown white man, brutally man-handling an 18-year-old black female?
Video appears to show Officer Fields, reaching his arm around this young woman’s neck, and grabbing her by her leg in in attempt to lift her out of her desk, which fails, resulting in her falling backwards with the desk landing on top of her. She is then awkwardly yanked, and flung to the front of the classroom where she. Yes, she does appear to resist – and she should have.
Critics – or whatever you would precisely call someone who tries to defend such acts of brazen excessive force- have pointed out that the student appeared to strike the Officer, and have tried to say that this somehow provoked what happened. Make no mistake about it; he got physical first, and in a very unprofessional, and excessively forceful manner. Her 3-5 punches (if they can be considered that) to his shoulder did not appear to hinder an incident, which was clearly already in motion, and they definitely didn’t provoke the initial aggression by the Officer.
This is a student, in a school. A supposed safe place dedicated to educating our nations young people. This is someone’s daughter, and as the father of a little black girl who will one day be a young black woman, I for one won’t stand for it.
There comes a point when enough is enough, and it seems everyone has been made a victim. As if it isn’t hard enough to watch our brothers, sons, and fathers gunned down in the streets. As if it isn’t heart wrenching enough to have to fight for transparency and reliable about what happened to our sisters, daughters, and mothers found dead in jail cells. Now we’re expected to listen to justification of attacks on young black ladies?
No. Hell no. Absolutely not.
We watched former Officer Eric Casebolt in McKinney, Texas, slam a 15-year-old girl to the ground, pin her face to the grass, and kneel on her back. Those who came to her defense were immediately threatened with apparent execution as Officer Casebolt brandished his weapon, at other teenagers, all while kneeling on this young girls back.
Are we really going to allow ourselves to become spectators to a trend of white men in uniform brutalizing, even attacking black girls?
Other students who were in the classroom at the time have made various statements regarding the incident, mostly via social media.
One tweeted his confusion on exactly why she was asked to leave her classroom in the first place. Another described her as apologetic throughout the incident, up until the SRO, or School Resource Officer came in to forcibly remove her. A third student, also a black female stood up in defense of the student being arrested, was threatened with arrest, and subsequently arrested as well.
Just to be clear, before the video, she was sitting quietly at her desk. Did nothing to provoke the officer
— Aaron Johnson (@Aaron___J) October 27, 2015
The officer came in because she wouldnt leave the class when the teacher toild her to. I still don’t know what she did to be asked to leave. — Aaron Johnson (@Aaron___J) October 27, 2015
This Officer blatantly exerted an unnecessary amount of force on a young lady who may have been acting insubordinately, but wasn’t being belligerent. She did not provoke what I chose to here forth describe as an “attack”.
There were many ways in which this situation could have been dealt with, de-escalated, even diffused, yet this Officer made the poor decision to escalate immediately to violence.
Were there no female SRO’s who could be called? Were her parents called? No, instead she was treated like a mid 30’s male fugitive.
The video also appears to show either the school administrator, or teacher Mr. Long, standing idly by, even so much as moving out of the way, as this girl was brutalized. Regardless of who it was, I would advocate immediate termination of both of their employment as well as that of Officer Fields. If you aren’t there to help protect students from such incidents, you shouldn’t be there.
The student who posted the original video alleged that the entire incident stemmed from the female student pulling out her cell phone. It would be nice to have confirmation on that, considering the incident was captured on at least 3 cell phones in the room.
The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the incident at Spring Valley, as they should. Charges should be brought against this adult man, who felt he had the right to put his hands on a young black woman with no real justification, aside from a weak resisting of arrest. He should be charged with assault, and civil rights abuses should be noted in the arrest of both students.
Yet public schools feel the need to use police officers, mainly trained to deal with criminals, who have authority complexes, and histories of excessive force violations to “protect” your children.
Parents, and even the community, should be instrumental in securing our own schools. This is why we need our own schools, our own security – our children’s safety.
Please, take part in the discussion, and express your displeasure or even opposing opinion via social media, and other platforms, using the hash tag #AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh, as it’s important to keep the conversation going.
Make no mistake about it, there was absolutely an assault, at Spring Valley High, and it should not be overlooked, nor forgiven.
Anas White is a 23-year-old Muslim, artist, writer, and activist with a deep-rooted interest in race relations particularly as it pertains to members of the African diaspora, religious pluralism, and African spirituality. Anas is a member of MuslimARC.