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The Broader Context of Spring Valley

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The mainstream press can always find ways of justifying egregious abuses of power by school administrators and police, especially when the victimized students are people of color.  So it should be clear, as Bouie notes, that Ben Fields’s attack is far from an isolated incident:

It’s easy to treat all of this as isolated behavior from an overly aggressive police officer and a teacher who couldn’t manage his classroom without outside authority. But the fact is that this incident—where police force, normally reserved for criminal offenders, was used to discipline a student—is incredibly common.

Since 1995, juvenile incarceration has dropped by more than 40 percent. In the same time frame, however, out-of-school suspensions have increased 10 percent, doubling the total from 1970. As reporters Dara Lind and Libby Nelson explain for Vox, this stems from several trends.

[…]

In practice, however, zero-tolerance policies became grounds for suspending students over relatively minor offenses, like disrupting and skipping class, or shooting spit balls. And school resource officers became the first option instead of a last resort, as teachers and administrators increasingly used law enforcement to handle routine discipline. In public school districts around the country, arrests have increased with the presence of school resource officers, even as juvenile crime rates have decreased. Even adjusting for poverty—which tends to correlate with safety—the total arrest rate in schools with officers was almost three times the rate for schools without them. “About 92,000 students were arrested in school during the 2011–2012 school year,” notes Vox. “And most of those were low-level violations.”

As is often true, from the war on drugs to mass incarceration, the brunt of this punitive policy falls hardest on black and Latino Americans. From 1972 to 2010, the school suspension rate for whites in middle and high school climbed from 6 percent to 7.1 percent. For Latinos it climbed from 6.1 to 12 percent. For blacks it more than doubled from 11.8 percent to 24.3 percent.

In 2007, 70 percent of in-school arrests were of black and Latino students. Overall, according to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than white students, 16 percent versus 5 percent. This is true for all ages: “Black children,” notes the DOE, “represent 18 percent of preschool enrollment, but 48 percent of preschool children receiving more than one out-of-school suspension.” White students, by contrast, “represent 43 percent of preschool enrollment but 26 percent of preschool children receiving more than one out-of-school suspension.” Students of color with disabilities are also more likely to be restrained or suspended: Black students constitute 21 percent of all students with disabilities, but 44 percent of those subject to mechanical restraints.

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  • Sly

    Christ, Don Lemon is an asshole.

    • tsam

      No shit. I only made it as far as him questioning whether the desk fell on it’s own or was thrown over by that bitch cop.

      Fuck this shit. This pansy fuck won’t do a day of jail time for assaulting a person, meaning this will just keep happening.

      • JL

        Even though I’ve seen enough of your comments to be pretty sure you don’t mean it that way, calling the cop “bitch” (a feminized slur) and “pansy” (which traditionally gets directed against feminine and/or queer men) comes off as some combination of homophobic and misogynistic. And especially given how homophobia and some kinds of misogyny contribute to asshole police behavior in general and to asshole school-cop behavior specifically, that doesn’t seem like the best thing.

        I think we are all on the same page about the assholishness of Don Lemon (and of the cop, for that matter). I really don’t know what’s wrong with that guy (either Lemon or the cop, though I meant Lemon here). Or what happened to CNN. I have this vague memory from childhood that they used to be reputable.

        • tsam

          Sorry–angry words. I know better–I just didn’t follow through with finding better words.

          • JL

            I hear you. This one pissed me off a lot too. I’m aware that it’s not an isolated incident, and if anything it pisses me off more.

    • witlesschum

      Christ, Don Lemon is an asshole.

      We are all that lady outside his window.

  • joe from Lowell

    What’s true about police in general is also true of school resource officers; they need to be properly recruited under, trained in and actively working on implementing a community policing strategy, where they view the people they deal with on a daily basis as “us” that they are there to serve, not a “them” that they are there to control. On top of that, school resource officers have to be further trained to understand that they are school support staff, like the cafeteria workers or custodians. That police officer and teacher very obviously did not think that the cop was under the teacher’s authority once he entered the classroom.

    • Steve LaBonne

      Yeah, the us vs. them model of policing is dysfunctional in any context, but especially awful in schools. But it’s how pretty much all cops are trained (and socialized by their peers), so changing it is going to be a big hill to climb.

    • tsam

      I met a resource officer at a school here in Spokane last week. She was a 58 year old lady, who said hi and smiled at all the students walking by, knew most of their names, and had a reputation for being someone kids could talk to–like another counselor with a badge. I’m guessing she needs to use force very rarely, if at all.

      That’s doing it right.

      • joe from Lowell

        The kids in Lowell middle schools will reflexively smile and say hi to the resource officer when he greets them, then catch themselves, look around to make sure their friends didn’t see, and scowl. I’m bad! I’m bad-ass! I’m so bad!

        Middle school kids, whaddyagonna do?

        • Colleen

          My brother in law was a SRO at a SC middle school. He was beloved! They dedicated the yearbook to him! I couldn’t imagine him treating any child this way.

    • celticdragonchick

      That police officer and teacher very obviously did not think that the cop was under the teacher’s authority once he entered the classroom.

      Exactly. I do not think he would have just left if the teacher decided this had gone far enough. He was there and his “authoritah” was not being respected. Blood must be spilled.

      • tsam

        Yeah–we’re gonna teach that rotten little bastard a lesson. Fucking pricks.

  • Steve LaBonne

    Maybe now the DOE can take time out from pandering to the testing lobby and deal with these issues?

    • DrDick

      In my dreams.

  • celticdragonchick

    Holy Christ, the cop comments at officer.com are a veritable fount of fascist authoritarian insanity…
    http://forums.officer.com/t202336/

    Yesterday I substituted at a mainly African American middle school in High Point, NC. I had numerous noise disturbances, a few kids fooling around on their cell phones or iPods (what the girl above was accused of btw on her smartphone), but then again, it’s 6th grade. Nothing I can’t handle. Had a couple kids try to figure me out as transgendered woman, but again, nothing I wasn’t prepared to deal with. I had a few EBD students and I did have to break up one altercation before punches started flying…but I never once thought I needed a fucking SRO to come in and break a kid’s arm fer chissakes!

    The kids were generally great, and I emailed the teacher and told her I would be happy to take her classes again.

    • JL

      Holy Christ, the cop comments at officer.com are a veritable fount of fascist authoritarian insanity…

      Not getting out of the boat, not getting out of the boat…oh I see, you posted some rotten mangos below.

      • Steve LaBonne

        I know cops only too well from work. I could write a plausible fake comment thread myself. This is how cops are trained and socialized to think, and only a complete uprooting of the system- which ain’t gonna happen- would begin to change it.

    • Origami Isopod

      Unless you’re investigating cops for a living or another good reason, never read cop forums. Ever. Those mangos are radioactive.

  • celticdragonchick

    Officer.com people think we all need a good fucking boot stomping:

    Yes, I guarantee they’ll side with the defiant child.

    We are at a time where people aren’t interested in what the person did for an officer to escalate the use of force, but why the officer was harassing the person in the first place. Eric Garner is a prime example. Was the officer justified in using that kind of force to affect an arrest? probably, but is it really worth it for a guy selling cigarettes… or a teenage brat being disruptive in school? We, in LE, probably all agree and see that that if we let the small stuff go, it will eventually lead to more serious crimes and a more serious disregard for authority, but that is what the people want. And until those very same people become victims and start screaming for LE to do something (and they will), we need to do what they are asking for. In this case, that means do nothing.

    If you don’t break her arm and throw her across the classroom in front of other children, then there is not telling what she might do next!

    Funny, where have I read this shit before? Oh yeah, Revolutionary France:

    The horror of the September Massacres and revulsion towards the bloodshed threatened to derail Jacobin support as Brissotins (who shared much of the blame in fact) fixed responsibility for the deaths on Robespierre and Marat. Marat in particular had been sanguinary in his earlier pronouncements that: “A year ago by cutting off five or six hundred heads you would have set yourself free and happy for ever more. Today it would take ten thousand; within a few months you will need to cut off a hundred thousand…”

    *

    From my senior thesis posted at academia.

    • tsam

      Yes, I guarantee they’ll side with the defiant child.

      Oh, you poor fascist little snowflakes–all alone on your island of self righteousness–U mad because people don’t like seeing a child get beat up? Gosh, I’ll change my attitude now because of course that badge means you’re infallible.

      We are at a time where people aren’t interested in what the person did for an officer to escalate the use of force,

      NO, you ignorant piece of shit–that’s ALL WE’RE INTERESTED IN. We want to know why you thought an obstinate, disruptive child deserved getting her brains beat out by a big, dumb redneck asshole.

      Was the officer justified in using that kind of force to affect an arrest? probably, but is it really worth it for a guy selling cigarettes… or a teenage brat being disruptive in school?

      Good question! Are we starting to think about this a little bit?

      We, in LE, probably all agree and see that that if we let the small stuff go, it will eventually lead to more serious crimes and a more serious disregard for authority, but that is what the people want

      Sadly, No!

      And until those very same people become victims and start screaming for LE to do something (and they will), we need to do what they are asking for. In this case, that means do nothing.

      Holy shit. K, bro.

    • Rob in CT

      Oh, look, defending the Eric Garner incident.

      To be fair, he says that until we (the public) come to our senses and run crying to Daddy

      we need to do what they are asking for.

      But then he fucks it up again:

      In this case, that means do nothing.

      In other words, either I get to be a violent, authoritarian asshole or I just refuse to do anything. Or at least that’s how I read it.

    • Hogan

      In this case, that means do nothing.

      If I can’t kick the crap out of kids, then I’m all out of ideas.

    • royko

      And until those very same people become victims and start screaming for LE to do something (and they will), we need to do what they are asking for. In this case, that means do nothing.

      Where have I heard that before?

      The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout “Save us!”… and I’ll look down and whisper “No.”

  • Crusty

    Eff Don Lemon, idiot turd. Duh, well, who’s to say, we weren’t there. What, is he auditioning for Pat Lynch’s job?

    • JL

      Eff CNN on this issue, in general.

      There was a night last year in Ferguson, one of the three nights I was there in August of last year, when three legal observers – the nice green-hatted folks from the National Lawyers Guild who observe and document police behavior at protests all over the country – got arrested for no apparent reason, and then we found out that CNN had, for some reason, tipped off the police to look out for troublemakers in green hats.

      And then of course there was the infamous episode after the grand jury verdict (I wasn’t in Ferguson for that one) where people were running down the street fleeing tear gas, people had been shot with less-lethals, there were fires, and the most important thing Don Lemon could think of to say was that he smelled marijuana.

  • jeer9

    I believe the incident is related to the inappropriate use of a cell phone in the classroom and the student refusing to turn it over to the teacher. (If there was a contemporary Ferris Bueller-type film of high school experience, a must-have shot would be from the back of the classroom, with students texting from behind their backpacks or books or in their laps beneath the desk while the oblivious or frustrated teacher drones on by the whiteboard.) Since this situation has occurred numerous times with me, you give the student the opportunity to turn it over to you or security will be called. I’ve never had a student then refuse to turn it over to security or not co-operate with them when they arrived.

    Last year a colleague had a student sneakily place an “I’m a fuckwad” post-it on a girl’s back, take a picture of it on his phone, and then send it off through social media. Naturally, it got back to the bullied student, the phone was confiscated, and lo and behold the practical joker was selling weed, had numerous messages on his phone about transactions (the phone actually rang for a purchase while it was in the dean’s hand) and several students at a nearby high school were busted as well.

    Our district has been engaged in discussions whereby all school texts can be accessed through electronic media (no more buying or replacing books), the classrooms are completely wired, and paper in many ways is taken out of the equation. That approach would certainly eliminate the disciplinary aspect of cell phone usage.

    • joe from Lowell

      and lo and behold the practical joker was selling weed, had numerous messages on his phone about transactions (the phone actually rang for a purchase while it was in the dean’s hand) and several students at a nearby high school were busted as well.

      This is the sort of thing I think about when people discuss street gangs as sophisticated criminal masterminds.

    • Lee Rudolph

      Our district has been engaged in discussions whereby all school texts can be accessed through electronic media (no more buying or replacing books), the classrooms are completely wired, and paper in many ways is taken out of the equation. That approach would certainly eliminate the disciplinary aspect of cell phone usage.

      Well, it’d certainly eliminate the Post-It™ problem. On the other hand, how can school survive without spitballs?

    • Karen24

      I was a sub long before cell phones, but our protocol for suspected cheaters was to tag the likely-fake work product and send a disciplinary form to the office after class. The counselor and principals took care of the rest of it. We were to call security only via panic button and then only if we reasonably believed our lives were in danger. In all the cases I knew of, the kid confessed and accepted a week of in-school suspension. I don’t see why this couldn’t be adapted for cell phone violations.

    • etv13

      I spent several minutes trying to figure out why the hell your colleague asked a student to do that post-it thing, until finally I realized you meant (or at least, I think you meant) “had a student in his class who” did that.

  • Crusty

    Don Lemon as George Costanza.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaqktZ8N0MQ

  • Does anyone else wonder if this police officer is abusing steroids? I saw people post links alleged to be video of the officer in question squat lifting 400 lbs, and it’s the first thing I thought of. If people in traffic accidents have to be breathalyzed following a crash, why can’t we drug and steroid test officers after every alleged incident of brutality?

    Maybe I’m too reflexively anti-authoritarian, and too willing to believe everything bad I hear about police departments, but I’ve heard that there are departments where steroid abuse is rampant, and it sure would go a long way in explaining some of these incidents of excessive violence on behalf of LEO’s.

    • joe from Lowell

      I bet it’s especially rampant among officers who are veterans.

      I’ve heard there were steroids all over the American bases in Iraq.

    • Crusty

      Its certainly possible, but I think its important that we not get too consumed searching for some kind of clinical cause for this.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        Yes, the more info that comes out, the more it sounds like this particular police officer had a violent history and never should have been in the schools in the first place. In other words, once again police brutality as a complete institutional failure. Steroids might be a part of this, but if the system actually worked, abusive cops wouldn’t be set back on the public, again and again, to keep harming people, regardless of their steroid use.

      • I wouldn’t call it a cause. Just a possible contributing factor.

      • I read the Police Chief’s comment over at NBC and it included this odd turn of phrase “Everything happend very fast and I’m sure that if he had it to do all over again he’d do it differently.” Things didn’t “happen very fast.” Someone escalated a quiet standoff and turned it into a pro wrestling match. I think it legitimate to search for and try to eradicate clinical causes which might lead people in authority to lose their fucking minds and turn a classroom into a battlefield in seconds. The absolute last thing kids need are people in authority over them who are abusing alcohol, recreational drugs, or steroids.

        • Crusty

          My concern here is that we discover that this guy was on steroids and we say oh, this guy was on steroids, he had roid rage, that’s why this happened, rather than recognizing the broader problems with law enforcement culture and the people it attracts to the job and the lack of training they get. I’m not so much concerned with whether this particular officer was on ‘roids, but that with or without ‘roids, he fits right in with his colleagues.

        • Karen24

          I think there is a lot of merit to this proposal, in conjuction with working on things like institutional racism and the specific procedures for handling classroom disruptions. I think steroid use is enough of a problem, and the effects of steroids and some other drugs so specifically toxic in situations like this one, that addressing some resources to it is merited.

    • Bill Murray

      Maybe I’m too reflexively anti-authoritarian, and too willing to believe everything bad I hear about police departments

      clearly some law enforcement type

      let the small stuff go,

      and it eventually

      lead to … a more serious disregard for authority

    • njorl

      A healthy man who trains moderately can be squatting twice his weight pretty quickly without any steroids. Most people just don’t work on that. It’s easier than bench pressing, but most people who lift can bench press more because they never do squats.

    • DonN

      Maybe the guy is just a natural asshole. I was squatting 400+ well into my 40’s and I’ve never used steroids. A think a bully nature with anger issues – a typical combination for police it seems – is a better explanation.
      DN

  • LWA

    This is another place where I see the culture of fear eroding our ability to function as a society.

    As others have noticed, whats remarkable is the bystanders, how they look away studiously, or cower in fear, knowing they could be next. Its like some warped lab experiment in how easy it is to get people to passively accept any level of brutality to a fellow human.

    Yes, the broader context is needed- why we have police in schools at all, why we see the need to treat ordinary teenage rebellion with violence.

    The law enforcers at Officer.com display this perfectly- they quake in fear at the imagined chaos and anarchy that will be unleashed if offenders are not crushed mercilessly.

    I would tie this to the gun culture, the endless wars, the shredding of the social safety net…when you are filled with fear and suspicion of everyone and everything, there isn’t room for generosity and civility.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      I see what you’re saying — but I would say that the very existence of this video shows the lack of passive acceptance on the part of some of the students. In fact, if the students had confronted or resisted what the officer was doing, they would likely have been on the receiving end of violence as well. But some of the students chose to do something that did, in fact, make a huge difference, and that was to take videos and get them out there, even knowing that there was risk (and I saw on Democracy Now! this morning that the student who took the video that everyone has seen on the news was arrested by that same officer).

      • Those poor kids were terrorized into immobility. I thought at once about Megan McCardle’s suggestion that we “train kindergarteners to rush shooters” when I saw the other students paralyzed and turning their heads away. That cop was armed and dangerous–they would have had to all rush him and take him down, unsure of what kind of back up they would receive from the teacher–who was refusing to intervene in the first place. This is textbook sociology stuff. People freeze up, especialy kids, in situations like this–especially when the offenders are parents, teachers, or police.

        • Malaclypse

          The teacher, however, should be fired.

          • joe from Lowell

            That teacher looked as frozen and frightened as the students to me.

            I think this is one where we need some backstory. Have teachers complained about Officer Smash before? What was the administration’s response?

            • joe from Lowell

              An administrator (I’m assuming it was the guy with the radio in his back pocket) was in the room – the teacher’s boss. He was the one who called the office, and he was the one standing in the front in charge of things. And he wasn’t objecting.

              So now the teacher would be overcoming 1) his shock, 2) whatever history there is with complaints about this cop and how they were handled, 3) the “diffused responsibility” effect, when you see no one else responding so you don’t, either, and 4) the trouble with challenging the roid-raging cop, 5) the trouble with challenging your boss, and 6) the need for the staff in a school to maintain a united front in front of the students.

              Point being, the administrator’s job is the one that should be on the block here, more than the teacher.

              • Malaclypse

                Fair enough.

              • NonyNony

                I’m all in favor of firing that principal or whatever administrator is standing there letting the cop beat the crap out of a student like that.

                The fact that the cop has been fired is more than I expected to happen, but the admin involved here should have been fired first.

              • Origami Isopod

                Agreed.

      • LWA

        I’m thinking of how in times of anxiety and insecurity, some people react with a greater sense of compassion and empathy, while others react with self-preservation.

        I’m connecting this to the broader economic insecurity and sense of fear over imaginary crime that cause the bitter clingers to want to punish welfare mothers and arm themselves to the teeth.

        I see comments like this all the time, about how “I am working 2 jobs and don’t take welfare, so…”
        Instead of being angry at the plutocrats who force them to work 2 jobs, they get angry at the people just below them.

        Its fear, fear all the time.

        • joe from Lowell

          Well, one thing is for sure: if Ben Carson had been there, he would have been all, like, “Hi-ya! Kapow!”

          This isn’t all that different from talking about people’s reactions to mass shooters.

          • wjts

            Repeated shouts of, “Karate! Karate! Karate!” would also be acceptable.

          • tsam

            Or he would have pointed to another student and said: “you want to be assaulting her, not me.”

    • JL

      Who says the bystanders are “accepting” anything? It’s perfectly reasonable that they’re scared. They’re kids suddenly dealing with someone who has a legal monopoly on violence and isn’t showing much hesitation about using it (and who in fact arrested the student who filmed the incident). Someone whose word would be believed over theirs by most people if there was a verbal dispute about what went down. There are enormous power dynamics involved. It doesn’t mean that they’re lacking in compassion and empathy, or generosity and civility.

      They aren’t at fault here. Why on earth would you make this about them? The problems here are 1) this cop, and 2) the broader contexts of policing, school discipline, and the intersections thereof.

      If you haven’t been in a situation like that, then I definitely don’t think it’s right to be passing judgment here. Even if you have, consider what it would be like to be a kid and dropped into that situation, with those power dynamics, unexpectedly.

    • Katya

      These children are not bystanders. They are victims. They are not “passively accepting” this officer’s violence. The officer can be seen explicitly threatening them with arrest, and there is clearly the implicit threat of arrest and violence if anyone should resist or attempt to intervene.

      In many jurisdictions, one’s sentence for assault can be increased if one commits the assault in front of a minor.

  • Rudolph Schnaubelt

    The cowed and timid compliance of all the remaining students in the video is frightening. They sit quietly, many with heads bowed and don’t look at, let alone object to the officer’s behaviour.

    In a public school, in a “democratic republic”, these young citizens have been taught compliance and unquestioning obedience. This is the ethos of the school to prison pipeline where the primary lesson is, obey.

    • Crusty

      I’m willing to give the students a pass and assume that they were terrified of the out of control raging hulk manhandling their classmate.

      • wjts

        Yeah, no shit. Comments about “cowed and timid” students aren’t much different from Armchair Charles Bronsons opining about how if THEY’D been in the audience at the Aurora movie theater things would have been TOTALLY different.

        • JL

          This this this this this. Anyone who has not personally dealt with an angry violent cop but feels the need to say shit about timid, compliant, empathy-lacking students needs to STFU instead. Anyone who has stills needs to consider how it might have been different if they were a black/brown child and dropped into the situation unexpectedly (if that wasn’t their own situation) and consider showing some empathy themselves and SingTFU about the students’ character.

          • LWA

            Just in case it wasn’t clear in my original comment-

            Were I in that classroom, I would have been cowed, frozen in fear and terrified.
            Sorry, I wish it were different, but there it is.

            Which is the point, that we are shaped by our culture, taught how to respond. A culture that routinely tells us how under threat we are, how dangerous the world is, and demonstrates how easily we can be harmed, is one where our bravery is replaced by survival.

            • JL

              But if you’re in the presence of an angry, violent cop, especially though not exclusively as a black or brown teenager, you ARE under threat, the part of the world that’s relevant to you in the short term IS dangerous, and you CAN be easily harmed. The problem in that case is not that your culture is telling you those things, the problem is that they’re all true. I don’t see how that’s relevant to your comments about economic insecurity, endless wars, or gun culture – the students in this class are not at all comparable to people who want to punish mothers on welfare.

              • I think it’s relevant to gun culture in that if we as a country had non-insane gun policies, the argument for having police in schools would be much weaker. And a lot of the people who support insane gun policies also support authoritarianism both in general and in specific towards black and brown teens.

              • LWA

                The link to those things is that the officer was in that classroom as a result of the society that views schoolchildren as latent delinquents in need of coercion;

                The police state is constructed on the myth of spiraling crime, presumably by dark skinned people in need of prison;

                The security state is constructed on the myth of dark hordes of Muslims/Communists swarming over the border to take our wimmen.

                The plutocracy is constructed on the fear of giving away our wealth to the underserving and impoverishing ourselves.

                The fear and insecurity is always the hook that gets otherwise decent people to countenance horrific measures, always taken as the lesser of evils. People who might be broadminded and generous are transformed by fear and anxiety into acceptance of awful things.

                • JL

                  Those parts make sense. I just don’t think any of that reflects on the students themselves. I don’t think the students themselves are countenancing horrible things. That’s the part I’m objecting to. They’re having a pretty normal and reasonable reaction to trauma. Their elders who created the conditions in which this happened, on the other hand…plenty of your points are applicable there.

    • joe from Lowell

      Have they been taught obedience in the school, or have they learned to fear the police in life?

      If I told that cop to stop, he’d politely tell me to back away.

      One kid – an African-American girl – tried to intervene. She was arrested, charges are still pending.

    • Orbis_Terrarum

      In slave cultures, people are trained early in life to kiss up to authority and kick down below them to stay secure. I’m pretty sure there’s a direct line from “sycophantic, cruel plantation overseer” to “South Carolina cop”.

    • Drexciya

      Our lovely democratic republic democratically lets schools hit kids as a matter of policy. That includes the state where this took place.

      I’m not quite in the mood to go digging for a more specific racial breakdown of its application.

      • wjts

        It’s not quite fair to use a minority of 19 states synedochally for the whole of our lovely democratic republic. Corporal punishment in public schools has been banned in more jurisdictions than not, and the states that allow it represent about a quarter of the total American population.

        • tsam

          All true, but I’ll bet there’s something to this:

          a more specific racial breakdown of its application.

        • Gee Suss

          I think you’re missing the point. (Of course, what percentage of states allowing children to be brutalized by administrators would you allow to represent our democracy is the ham-fisted question I would ask). There’s no federal law against it, no popular movement against it, it’s tolerated by the country. It’s the brutalizations of children in state care: it’s not acceptable if it’s 1%.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          That it’s only 19 states is news. The number didn’t start to dwindle until the 1990’s or so. It used to be higher.

    • JL

      Once more (see my above comment), FFS, what do you expect them to do given the power dynamics? They’re reacting in a perfectly reasonable way to a terrifying situation. The kid who filmed and verbally objected was arrested too.

      • Drexciya

        In addition to giving them a physical demonstration of the violence he can visit on their persons, without redress or defense, let’s remember that the officer also credibly threatened the other kids by saying “I’ll put you in jail next”.

        You can look at it as “cowed timid compliance” or you can view it as an early and learned lesson in what country they’re in and what options they have when that country suddenly decides to show you.

        • JL

          And lest anyone forget what the threat of “I’ll put you in jail next” really means, arrest is such a total crapshoot. You don’t know whether the arrest itself, or the transport, will be unusually violent or degrading in some way. You don’t know how you’ll be treated in jail. You don’t know how long you’ll be stuck in there initially, whether any medical needs that you have will be met, or what kind of bail you will or won’t be offered. You don’t know whether the prosecutor or judge will be reasonable or try to nail you to the wall, and you don’t know how long the process will last. You have almost no control over any of these, and if you’re young and black or brown, you have reason to believe that the crapshoot itself is stacked against you, that with all the factors that I listed above, the outcomes are more likely to be bad ones. Arrest has a lot of physical and emotional safety implications.

          In general, I would like society to stop being such jerks to people with the “Freeze or appease” side of the “Fight, flight, freeze, or appease” set of reactions to trauma. It causes a ton of damage to the people who have those reactions. And being jerks about/to scared kids is inexcusable.

        • gmack

          Just to add to this, we should also recall the Sheriff’s remarks about the incident. He fired the cop in question, but he also blamed the student for the event. And finally, he also specifically praised the students who were “compliant”: “‘You saw other students that sat there. They were what students are supposed to be – well-disciplined.’

          So yes, we really can’t get much more of a direct claim about the purposes of this violence.

    • Origami Isopod

      You, OTOH, would totally have kicked that cop’s ass, right?

  • Someone over at Kos posted (but I don’t know where they got their info) that the girl had recently lost her mother and her grandmother and was in foster care. A teenager who has lost everything inthe way of family is going to be hypervigilant about her belongings (like the cel phone) and about her use of social media and text because she has nothing else and has lost all other normal connections. In a good school, with enough resources and time, she would have been approached gently and given sympathy and hugs and understanding. She would have been invited to go to the school nurse’s office to lie down, have a cup of tea, and a good cry if she couldn’t handle being in class at tha tmoment. There is never a reason to try to force compliance from a kid in the moment, through violence.

    • Steve LaBonne

      And let’s face it, even in a bad school, if she were white there’s a much better chance your scenario would have been the one that occurred.

  • Drexciya

    Here’s the truth: What happened at Spring Valley High wasn’t an exception or a scandal. It’s how things work for black students. And if you’re feeling cynical, it’s how they’re supposed to work, with segregated or predominantly black schools feeding the maw of our nearly insatiable prison system.

    This bears repeating.

    • Steve LaBonne

      I’m always feeling cynical. There’s no doubt in my mind that that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

    • brad

      And it’s far from cynical. Hell, in NYC the projects, (non magnet public) schools, and prisons are all… identical. The building materials, the paint, the lighting. Same doors, even.

    • DrDick

      A point I make strongly in my race and ethnicity class.

    • witlesschum

      And even if you’re not feeling cynical, it’s a system indistinguishable from one that was designed that way.

  • pianomover

    I’m all for corporal punishment in the school as long it carries over into the post school environment.
    Example, Show up late for work a good spanking administered by HR should suffice. Squabble with an upper management lackey then one should be physically removed from their cubicle handcuffed and isolated.

    • Lee Rudolph

      I’m fairly sure Rule 34 is in force, here.

    • tsam

      RELLAVENT TO MY INTERSTS PLZ SEND NEWSLETER

    • Origami Isopod

      Show up late for work a good spanking administered by HR should suffice.

      Dear Penthouse, I never thought it could happen to me, but…

    • joe from Lowell

      Pics or it didn’t happen.

  • It’s easy to treat all of this as isolated behavior from an overly aggressive police officer and a teacher who couldn’t manage his classroom without outside authority. But the fact is that this incident—where police force, normally reserved for criminal offenders, was used to discipline a student—is incredibly common.

    It’s easy to treat it as an isolated incident if you’ve bought the idea that every incident of police brutality is an isolated incident and only someone who is paranoid (or hates the troops freedom police) would try to connect the dots.

    The statistics are helpful, but at this point I think anyone who needs to be told that police violence v. children is a problem … probably isn’t going to believe the stats. Or will wonder why police don’t bootheel more black school children.

    (Despite appearances, this isn’t a slam contra Bouie, I’m just getting a bit bored with the fact that the same problem has to be re-framed and re-explained over and over and over…)

    • DrDick

      I’m just getting a bit bored with the fact that the same problem has to be re-framed and re-explained over and over and over…

      Especially given that we have known about this for decades and there is tons of evidence demonstrating it.

      Off topic, but congrats on your elevation (or perhaps demotion) to front pager. I look forward to your posts.

    • shah8

      I have also resented the fact that I feel the need to comment on this sort of thing, when I have wide interests and would like to be known for commenting on all sorts of things.

      But sometimes, I think it’s just a really bad outcome if I just let things slide.

    • Drexciya

      Relevant:

      The dichotomy between white ethics and its irrelevance to the violence of police profiling is not dialectical; the two are incommensurable. Whenever one attempts to speak about the paradigm of policing, one is forced back into a discussion of particular events—high-profile police homicides and their related courtroom battles, for instance. The spectacular event camouflages the operation of police law as contempt, as terror, its occupation of neighborhoods; the secret of police law is the fact that there is no recourse to the disruption of people’s lives by these activities. In fact, to focus on the spectacular event of police violence is to deploy (and thereby reaffirm) the logic of police profiling itself. Yet, we can’t avoid this logic once we submit to the demand to provide examples or images of the paradigm. As a result, the attempt to articulate the paradigm of policing renders itself non-paradigmatic, reaffirms the logic of police profiling, and thereby reduces itself to the fraudulent ethics by which white civil society rationalizes its existence.

      Examples cannot represent the spectrum of contemporary white supremacy from the subtle (e.g., the inability to get a taxi) to the extreme (e.g. the de facto martial law occupation of many black and brown neighborhoods), all of which has become structural and everyday. As in the case of spectacular police violence, producing examples of more subtle (if obvious) forms of “institutional racism” (e.g., continuing discriminatory trends in housing, education, employment, etc.) has the same effect of reducing the paradigm to the non-paradigmatic. The logic of this journalistic approach generates nonchalance in contemporary race talk such that sensational reportage about the supposedly hidden residues of a persistent racism disables analysis. Both the spectacular and the subtle, against which people can unite in their desire for justice, remain the masks behind which the daily operations of white supremacist terror proceed.

      Most theories of white supremacy seek to plumb the depths of its excessiveness, beyond the ordinary; they miss the fact that racism is a mundane affair. The fundamental excess of the paradigm of policing which infuses this culture is wholly banal. Those theories overlook that fact in favor of extant extravagance, spectacle, or the ‘deep psychology’ of rogue elements and become complicit in perpetuating white supremacy. The reality is an invidious ethos of excess that, instead, constitutes the surface of everything in this society. For some time now, the intellectual quest for racism’s supposedly hidden meaning has afforded a refuge from confrontations with this banality, even its possible acknowledgement. The most egregious aspect of this banality is our tacit acquiescence to the rules of race and power, to the legitimacy white supremacy says it has, regardless of their total violation of reason and comprehensibility. Our “tacit acquiescence” is the real silent source of white supremacist tenacity and power. As William C. Harris, II wrote in the aftermath of Tyisha Miller’s murder by the police:

      “It is heartbreaking to be an American citizen and have to say this, but I do have to say this. We have almost, and I stress almost, become accustomed to police shooting innocent, unarmed, young, black males. That in itself is bad enough, and one was at one time inclined to think it couldn’t get any worse, but it gets worse…. Now we have police killing our young black females. It can’t get any worse than that.”

      Harris is right; yet he also sells himself out because he acquiesces in the process of decrying acquiescence. He does not draw the line between respect for persons and impunity. He continues: “Even if she grabbed a gun, was it necessary to shoot at her twenty-seven times? I know it’s less than 41, but that’s still too many times to shoot at a sleeping female—black, brown, yellow or white” (emphasis added). Why isn’t one bullet too many times to shoot anybody? It is the job of the spectacular (and sensational reports about the subtle) to draw attention away from the banality of police murder as standard operating procedure.

      Spectacle is a form of camouflage. It does not conceal anything; it simply renders it unrecognizable. One looks at it and does not see it. It appears in disguise. Harris, for example, looks at acquiescence and cannot see it. Camouflage is a relationship between the one dissimulating their appearance and the one who is fooled, who looks and cannot see. Like racialization as a system of meanings assigned to the body, police spectacle is itself the form of appearance of this banality. Their endless assault reflects the idea that race is a social envelope, a system of social categorization dropped over the heads of people like clothes. Police impunity serves to distinguish between the racial uniform itself and the elsewhere that mandates it. They constitute the distinction between those whose human being is put permanently in question and those for whom it goes without saying. Police spectacle is not the effect of the racial uniform; rather, it is the police uniform that is producing re-racialization.

  • JL

    A useful report on the school to prison pipeline and how it affects students of color, LGBTQ students, and disabled students. It’s mostly about how movements should collaborate, but does have some data. Some highlights:

    – Black students are suspended or expelled at 3x the rate of white students (even in preschool!) and black girls are 6x more likely to be suspended than white girls.

    – A fourth of all disabled black students are suspended.

    – 70% of students arrested or referred to law enforcement in school are black or Latino.

    Relatedly, in a survey by Lambda Legal, 23% of LGBTQ 18-24 year olds who had had cops in their middle or high schools reported having heard their school cops use anti-LGBTQ slurs. Those numbers go up to 31% looking only at the respondents who are people of color, and 45% looking only at the Latino respondents.

    • Ronan

      Thanks for posting that. It is interesting.

  • humanoid.panda

    When I was an 18 year old soldier in the IDF, I was attached to a border guards unit that policed Eastern Jerusalem for a week. Border guards are a notoriously violent, racist part of the Israeli police, used to keep Palestinians down. In that week, I had seen some vile crap, some of it bordering on war crimes. However, I had never seen anything approaching the level of force American police officers use in everyday interactions, as witnessed by the kind of stuff that’s coming out now.

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    Meanwhile young wealthy 18-22 yo get away with acts that would normally be assaults, public drunkenness, sexual assault, destruction of property etc. with completely clean records thanks to the magic of “Camp Sec” and the honor code.

  • Rick_B

    I keep looking at that nearly 300 pound cop and thinking of all the stories I hear locally of cops on steroids. The girl at 16 is what? 100 pounds? And she is Black, so she is a threat to him.

    That behavior by the cop was “roid rage” if I have ever seen it. And a cop (or anyone else) on steroids has all the psychotic characteristics of someone with attention deficit disorder.

  • celticdragonchick

    The official wingnut story is now that she attacked him and forced him to defend himself. My mom was trying to convince me of that one.

  • UncleEbeneezer

    Rod and Karen at TheBlackGuyWhoTips (my new fave podcast) covered the subject in pretty good depth, and even managed to get some laughs out of it. Just thought some of you might enjoy it.

    PS- they also do an excellent weekly recap of Walking Dead. I’ve enjoyed it even as someone who doesn’t watch the show.

    Re: OP- the whole thing is just atrocious. Especially all the people who are predictably defending the cop and blaming the victim. There’s apparently no level of police abuse (especially to brown people) that a non-trivial % of Americans will enthusiastically justify and even applaud. Sigh…

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