Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How come the principal of Spring Valley High School isn't in trouble for calling officer to drag girl out of classroom?

Update 5:33 PM Oct. 28, 2015  

Finally someone agrees with me!  See last story below. 

If the Spring Valley High School teacher and assistant principal had had more training, wisdom, finesse and good will, they wouldn't have created an out-of-control confrontation with a girl who quietly glanced at her cellphone and apologized for it. 

When I was a student teacher I was told, "Never start a confrontation you can't win. It undermines your authority."

The teacher and  assistant principal overreacted to the girl's refusal to turn over her phone. It could have been dealt with after class when it wouldn't have completely disrupted the class.

But the teacher and administrator under-reacted to the brutality by the officer toward a child in their care.  Were they so angry at the girl that they wanted her to be physically assaulted? Did they want "Officer Slam" to slam the girl? Do they not recognize a crime when it's being committed before their eyes against a child they are being paid to protect?

Here's an interview with Niya Kenny, a fellow student who was arrested with the girl slammed by the officer.

...Not many news agencies have reported, or even wondered why she was asked to leave in the first place.  As it turns out she had momentarily looked at her phone during class, and apologized for it at the time.
...[Niya] Kenny: Yes, sir he's known as Officer Slam around our school.  I've heard, in the past, he's slammed pregnant women, teenage girls, he's known for Slamming.
Hayes: Um.. one of the things that's so striking in this video is the other students in the room seem so quiet and scared and contained.  No one seems to be intervening.  Why do you think that was?
Kenny: They were scared, I was scared myself.  I felt the two grown men in the class were also scared themselves because who's seen anything like that? That's not normal for anyone to be handled like that, let alone a 16-year-old girl by a 300 lbs man.
Hayes: You at one point did get up to say, what were you saying, what happened?
Kenny: I was screaming, crying, like "Are you guys seriously letting this happen? This is not right, you guys know this isn't right. You guys are really letting this happen right now?" I guess they were in shock but still I felt like somebody in the class should have helped her.
Hayes: Did the teacher or the administrator say anything to the officer like "hey, this is excessive" or try to intercede in any way?
Kenny: Not at all, they were both quiet just like the kids.
Hayes: So everyone is sitting there in stunned silence, you start saying something, what happens next?
Kenny: And then the administrator, Coran Webb who was also in the class, starts telling me "Sit down Niya, be quiet Niya, put your phone away Niya."  And I'm like "No, no, this is not right. I can't believe ya'll are doing this to her."
Hayes: And then you then, are eventually arrested?
Kenny: Yes, sir.

Original post:

Why isn't anyone questioning the actions of the teacher and assistant principal at Spring Valley High School?
by Maura Larkins

It seems that the South Carolina SRO (school resource officer) did pretty much what the teacher and assistant principal expected him to do when he dragged a girl out of her high school classroom.

The assistant principal made the decision to call the officer into the classroom. It appears that he wanted the officer to use force. Or perhaps he just thought the officer would be able to intimidate the girl and she would get up and leave voluntarily. He clearly did not tell the officer NOT to use force.  I can certainly understand if the officer believed that he was expected to use force.

The LA Times notes, "[Sheriff] Lott, who rushed home from an out-of-town conference when the news broke, said that a teacher and vice principal in the classroom at the time felt the officer acted appropriately."

What was the girl's offense? Texting in class.

Compare this case to a situation in Sacramento that did indeed require the school to use force: a principal was body-slammed! 

Also, compare to the dancing cop in Washington D.C. confronting a teenager with a cell phone.

Race and Discipline in Spotlight After South Carolina Officer Drags Student

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Videos of a white sheriff’s deputy throwing a black high school girl to the floor of a classroom thrust this community into an unsettling national discussion Tuesday about whether black students are disproportionately punished.

The incident, which the Justice Department said Tuesday that it would investigate, follows national studies showing that black students were far more likely than whites to be disciplined in public schools, even for comparable offenses.

That issue was receiving intense scrutiny here long before the videos of Monday’s incident were released, prompting the district to form a task force last year to examine its practices.
Last year, the racial divide in the Richland School District Two, encompassing parts of this city and its suburbs, led to the formation of the Black Parents Association, and contributed to a bitter campaign for control of the district’s board.

Yet this community fits no neat stereotype of racial tension. It has at times been seen as a model of amicable integration, where students of divergent backgrounds socialize together. And while some students have called the deputy overly rough or racist, others, of all races, defend his record in the school — if not his behavior on the videos.

The videos showed a sheriff’s deputy assigned to Spring Valley High School struggling with a 16-year-old girl who had refused to stand and leave her math class, after the teacher reportedly caught her using her phone. The deputy, Ben Fields, tipped the girl’s chair and desk backward, lifting her out of her seat and slamming her to the floor, and then dragged her to the front of the classroom, where he cuffed her hands behind her back.

Sheriff Leon Lott of Richland County said at a news conference Tuesday that in one video, when the deputy grabbed the girl, she could be seen punching him, but he said his focus was on whether the deputy followed departmental rules. “That’s what the internal affairs investigation is doing, and the results of that will determine his further employment here,” he said.

“Even though she was wrong for disturbing the class, even though she refused to abide by the directions of the teacher, the school administrator and also the verbal commands of our deputy, I’m looking at what our deputy did,” Sheriff Lott said.

He deflected a question about the role of race, saying Deputy Fields has a black girlfriend.
[Maura Larkins' note: I wonder if the black girlfriend also gets dragged around.]
On Monday, the sheriff placed Deputy Fields on unpaid leave, and asked for a federal investigation. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, along with the F.B.I. and the United States attorney for South Carolina, said Tuesday that it would look into the incident.

James Manning, the chairman of the district’s board, said the use of force “appears to me to be excessive and unnecessary.”

Deputy Fields has been the subject of two federal lawsuits about his conduct in the past. A jury found in his favor in one, and the other is pending...

Dancing cop vs. abusive cop: One defused a defiant teen. The other got fired.

Washington Post
Twice this week, the nation was moved by the way a white cop confronted a black teenaged girl and her mobile phone. For very different reasons.
In South Carolina, the teen was texting in math class and wouldn’t put her phone away. Teens and their phones, right?

But the campus officer who came to the class responded in the worst possible way, yanking, slamming and dragging the girl across the classroom. It was a violent 11 seconds of video that made millions of people gasp and, thankfully, got the cop fired.
Sadly, in this time of a national awakening to stunning incidents of Bad Cop brutality — from ruthless arrests caught on camera to fatal shootings — this has become what we expect to see.
But many of this country’s 780,000 sworn police officers know how to do their jobs the right way.

In Washington, police showed up in a neighborhood near the Nationals baseball stadium to break up a fight between two groups of teens. After it was over, 17-year-old Aaliyah Taylor, a senior at Ballou High School, walked up to the officer and started playing “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” on her phone. Instead of clearing out, as the police officer had demanded that she and the rest of the crowd do, she started dancing the Nae Nae. You could totally see a teen doing this, right?

That officer had a choice. Yell at the teen for being defiant and disrespectful? Go rogue and slam the teen to the ground, South Carolina-style?
Nope. Instead, the officer began dancing, too, matching Aaliyah move for move. It was a hilarious, uplifting and refreshing 56 seconds of video that immediately went viral.

It shouldn’t be news that a police officer used her humanity to defuse a tense situation instead of escalating it, that a white cop didn’t use force against a black teen. But for many people in Aaliyah’s community, it was.
All seven of her siblings have been cuffed or arrested by police for nonviolent crimes, like breaking curfew, she told The Washington Post’s Perry Stein. And her brother and six sisters all told her that the police were rough on them. We saw that video in South Carolina. We know it happens.
Aaliyah lives in a rapidly changing city that is becoming less and less welcoming to people who look like her.
Her neighborhood near Ballou High School in Southeast Washington is a world of jump-outs and street corner pat-downs. Dozens of students at her school have been killed in the past decade. You’re wearing a hoodie? Dark pants? You’re going to get stopped. Kids in her neighborhood run when they see police.

Surveys and studies — Gallup, Pew, USA Today — show that nationwide, African Americans aren’t confident in the way police interact with their communities.

“I thought all cops were cruel because that’s how I saw them,” Aaliyah explained later.

The police officer, rather than taking her down like a drug kingpin caught in a sting, laughed at Aaliyah’s challenge to her authority, warned her that she had better moves and started dancing, clunky cop shoes, turtle-shell body armor and all.

“Instead of us fighting, she tried to turn it around and make it something fun,” Aaliyah said. “I never expected cops to be that cool. There are some good cops.”...



Victim of SC school assault “had it coming”

By Brandi Collins
ColorofChange. org
Oct. 28 2015

By now you’ve probably heard about the horrifying and brutal attack of a peaceful Black female high school student by school Police Officer Ben Fields - an officer with a history of racial profiling.1 Just hours after the incident, some media had already begun its routine character assassination of the Black student and its blind hero worshiping of the officer. The most vile of this coverage came from CNN’s Harry Houck.
Just like when he was covering the murder of Sandra Bland, Harry Houck thinks this young Black girl “had it coming.”2 That if she only respected the officer she would not have been viciously attacked.
As an ex-NYPD detective with a national platform, Harry Houck continues to pedal racist narratives that put Black lives at risk by suggesting that officers have the right to use abusive force on Black women who don’t respect them. It's an embarrassment for the network and it should embarrass corporate sponsors that their money is reinforcing for millions of viewers the both conscious and unconscious belief that Black is wrong, the police are always right, and any lack of respect for an officer by a woman of color justifies a beating or worse..

South Carolina student who was assaulted by deputy Ben Fields is living in foster care, says her lawyer

Updated: Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The South Carolina high school student flipped and thrown across a classroom by the disgraced sheriff's deputy who lost his job Wednesday is living in foster care, her lawyer told the Daily News.

The 16-year-old is now under the protection of a foster mom who said she's suffering in the aftermath of the shocking caught-on-video assault, lawyer Todd Rutherford said Wednesday.

News of the unidentified teen's status surfaced as Richland County Sheriff's Deputy Ben Fields was stripped of his badge for his violent reaction to her allegedly unruly behavior.

The Monday incident inside an algebra class at Spring Valley High School was captured in disturbing cellphone footage that quickly went viral and raised renewed concerns about racist policing and excessive force. Fields is white, and the student is black.

"Deputy Ben Fields did wrong this past Monday, so we're taking responsibility for that," Sheriff Leon Lott of Richland County said at a news conference in Columbia announcing the dismissal.

"The maneuver that he used was not based on the training or acceptable," Lott said, adding that the termination "wasn't a hard decision."

Lott praised the classmates who filmed the officer's overreaction and even encouraged citizens to keep filming cops to help "police the police."

The Justice Department also is investigating the case, and Fields may face criminal charges from that probe.

Fields earned nationwide scorn for the video showing him slamming the girl to the ground while she was still caught in her desk, and then dragging her across the classroom floor after she allegedly refused to stop using her cellphone.

Fields' lawyer issued a defiant statement late Wednesday, thanking people for their "heartfelt support."

"We believe that Mr. Fields' actions were justified and lawful throughout the circumstances of which he was confronted during this incident," lawyer Scott Hayes said.

"To that extent, we believe that Mr. Fields' actions were carried out professionally and that he was performing his job duties within the legal threshold," he said.

Hayes said his client "welcomes the opportunity to address the particulars at the appropriate time."
While confirming Fields' dismissal, Sheriff Lott criticized the teen for allegedly starting the confrontation and said that she still could face prosecution.

Ben Fields has a history of alleged misconduct and is being sued by an expelled Spring Valley student for racial bias. Richland County Sheriff's Department--Ben Fields has a history of alleged misconduct and is being sued by an expelled Spring Valley student for racial bias.
The girl and a fellow female student who objected to Fields' actions were charged with disturbing the school. Both were released to their guardians.
"She was not allowing the teacher to teach, she was not allowing the students to learn," he said. "She was very disruptive, very disrespectful."
Her teacher tried to discipline her and called a school administrator for help before bringing in Fields, he said.
Fields was allowed to put his hands on the girl and tell her she was under arrest, Lott said, but he went too far.
"I can tell you what he should not have done: He should not have thrown that student," Lott said.
Rutherford said the girl suffered injuries to her arm, neck and face.
Lott claimed the girl suffered only "rug burn."...

Black girls are suspended at six times the rate of white girls

Maura Larkins' comment: I estimate that thousands of white girls send texts during high school math classes everyday, but we would be truly shocked if one of them were dragged out of class by a police officer and arrested.

 Press release by Color of Change Oct. 28, 2015:

...While Fields' firing was absolutely necessary, he [should not be] alone in shouldering the blame for this incident.
From start to finish, there was a total breakdown in common sense and compassion for the student who he brutalized. Even Sheriff Lott has questioned whether the officer should have ever been called into the classroom.2                                                
The educators who involved a police officer in this minor disciplinary issue and the policy makers who have failed to limit the role of police in schools must also be held accountable.
Join us in urging Richland School District 2 authorities to investigate the school officials who called Officer Fields and to strictly limit the role of police in their schools.
During today's press conference, it was revealed that school officials issued statements in support of Officer Fields after videos of his violent attack went viral.3 It's shameful. Any school official who found Officer Fields' behavior acceptable shouldn't be educating our children. This type of discriminatory police violence has no place in Richland County schools and local leadership must do everything in their power to stop it. As long as policies allow educators to bring in police for any minor school issue we can expect to see more and more tragic cases like this one. Richland School District 2 Superintendent Debbie Ham has said she will work to strengthen police "training efforts in the school," but we need more than that.4
ColorOfChange members know all too well that the police violence caught on camera at Spring Valley High is part of a much larger crisis of criminalization targeting Black students. In the past few years, the number of police in schools has skyrocketed and the result has been devastating. Known as the "school to prison pipeline," kids are now much more likely to be suspended, expelled and arrested for the type of issues that years ago would have landed a student in the principal's office.5 Black girls — who face dehumanizing racial and gender stereotypes — are 6 times more likely than white girls to be suspended, most commonly for subjective issues such as "having a bad attitude."6 Police should play no role in the everyday education and disciplining of students.

— Arisha, Rashad, Scott, Lyla and the rest of the ColorOfChange team.

1. "South Carolina Officer Fired for Throwing High School Student, Sheriff Says," Slate 10-28-2015
2. "S.C. sheriff fires officer who threw student across a classroom," Washington Post 10-28-2015
3. See reference 2.
4. "South Carolina Deputy Ben Fields Fired After Desk-Flipping Incident: Sheriff," NBC 10-28-2015
5. "Spring Valley Officer Assault Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg," ThinkProgress 10-27-2015
6. "Study: Black girls are suspended 6 times more often than white girls,'" USA Today 02-11-2015