At Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina, Richland County Senior Deputy Ben Fields was captured on video violently assaulting a black teenage girl at she sat at her desk, flipping her over backwards, and then dragging her from the classroom. I will not be reposting the video in this space, but it is viewable at a number of different sites, including here. The incident is being investigated.
[CN: Moving gifs of the assault at link] According to students who witnessed the assault, it began simply because the girl refused to leave the classroom:
A witness who posted a video of the incident on Youtube said the girl was asked by the teacher to get off her cell phone, but refused, and then would not leave the class room when asked by an administrator, so police were called. She allegedly refused the deputy's requests to get up from her desk, and that is when the videos begin.The video is difficult and upsetting to watch, but it is not surprising. At least, it shouldn't be. Not at this point. The only shocking thing to me is that there are still people who imagine that body cameras are going to be a meaningful and comprehensive deterrent to this sort of vicious abuse.
...The 15-second video was posted on social media just hours after the incident happened on Monday. It shows a white officer grabbing the black student by the arm as she sits in her desk.
Deputy Ben Fields, at one point during the incident, says to the girl, "Are you going to come with me or am I going to make you? Come on. I'm going to get you up."
In the video, Fields pulls on her arm, moving the desk and the girl and then grabs hold of her shoulder and neck area. He turns over the desk, throwing it and the unnamed student to the ground. He then drags her toward the door, pulling the desk along with her and then throws her out of it before jumping on top of her to handcuff her as the video ends.
Students in the classroom sit silently, as a teacher also watches.
...A student in the classroom tweeted his eyewitness account of the video, saying "to be clear," the girl was "sitting quietly at her desk," and did not provoke the deputy before the video started. Aaron Johnson said "nobody even knew what she did," and why he grabbed her.
Johnson said, "When I asked (their teacher) Mr. Long if he felt bad for what happened to her … his reply was 'she should have cooperated.'"
He added, "I think we were all in shock and afraid they would say something to us, he put another girl in handcuffs for standing up, like standing up for the girl."
I do not accept that a teenage girl who was noncompliant with an order to leave a classroom "provoked" this attack. I do not accept that there were no alternatives to this outburst of violence toward her. I do not accept that this assault could have been justified, in any way.
I am angry, and I hope that you are angry, too.
I've said before, and I will say again: #BlackLivesMatter cannot be and is not just about ending police killings. It's also about ending the violent, discriminatory policing that is fundamentally incompatible with freedom, safety, and justice. It cannot be and is not just about preventing death, but about preventing torment and state-sanctioned oppression against the living.
Please go read Prison Culture, who is spot-on, as always: "Black Girl Down…and Up."