GUEST: Chenjerai Kumanyika, Assistant Professor of Communications Studies at Clemson University in South Carolina. He has been active on issues of police brutality and closely followed the case at Spring Valley High in Columbia.
By now the video of a black female high school student being brutalized by a white officer has gone viral, prompting the “#AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh” social media hashtag to be used tens of thousands of times. The incident in Columbia, South Carolina, has underscored the on-going police abuses of African Americans, and, just as importantly, it has reminded us of the dangerous and unnecessary presence of police on school campuses.
The Spring Valley High student in question was apparently caught by a teacher using her cell phone in the classroom and asked to leave. Reports indicate that at no point did she become violent, belligerent, or even raise her voice. The teacher then called in the officer in question, the “school resource officer,” Sheriff’s Deputy, Ben Fields, who proceeded to put the young girl in a choke hold, slam her to the ground while she remained seated, and drag her half way across the room in one swift motion.
According to news reports, “the girl’s arm is in a cast, she has a rug burn on her forehead and has pain in her neck and back. She was hospitalized Monday night and saw a doctor.”
Officer Fields has been banned from the campus, temporarily suspended from his job and faces multiple investigations including by the FBI.