The Spring Valley High School SRO Ben Fields had two lawsuits filed against him, the first for excessive violence, the second for targeting black students. I wonder if these are the first ever incidents in that man’s police career that he was perceived as violent and racist. It’s possible. If he had been violent before (racism is harder to prove), then it was pretty careless hiring on the part of the school. Another indication that this wasn’t the first time this SRO was violent: one of the nicknames the students had for him was Officer Slam.
And here’s what’s being argued in his defense by various people online:
First, that the student was “disrupting schools”. Well, she wanted to check her phone for just a sec. The teacher was the one who made a big deal out of it, insisting on his authority rather than letting it go as long as it was indeed a quick check. She may have needed to for some reason. The teacher called in the assistant principal, who took the same approach and called in the SRO, who acted the way we’ve all seen on the video. Now who exactly was disrupting schools? (And why on earth is this term plural?)
The teacher was the one who interrupted his own teaching and made a big scene out of nothing. The assistant principal could have been assisting the principal instead of wasting his time on this idiocy and the cop, well, he should probably never have been placed there to begin with. I’m sure the police have better things to do than manhandle teenage girls for peeking at their phones in class, so the only reason–that I can think of–why the police thought it was a good idea to place this officer at the school is that it allowed them to get rid of an incompetent cop without having to fire him.
Second, the student was not following his order to get up and the police have the right to use force if someone doesn’t obey their orders. One just has to come along meekly and politely and sort it out at the police station. In other words, you can’t ever question the police. Sorting it out at the police station means you’re under arrest, so you then have a criminal record, and the sorting out would probably have to be done by a lawyer, which costs money, or it would mean paying a steep fine.
Third, students should learn to respect the law, and instead this girl has now learned that she can get a cop fired. Well, good for her, I say. She’s a citizen and as such she has the right to be treated with dignity and respect, especially at the institution she attends every day. The school has also learned something, I hope: respect is a two-way street. The way the teacher, the assistant principal and the cop approached this non-issue teaches kids to solve problems or just perceived disrespect with violence, and these kids did not find that acceptable. And throughout the country police are learning something: in the age of camera phones, they can no longer get away with thuggery. All good lessons.
Fourth, the student punched the officer’s arm. That may be; I have not been able to make that out in any of the videos. But it’s irrelevant, because it was not the reason the officer used violence. He planned to when he walked in the door. He immediately took away her tablet and asked a nearby student to move his desk away. It didn’t matter what the student did or didn’t do after that. The man’s a thug, plain and simple.
Fifth, lots of students walked out of school to protest SRO Ben Fields’s firing; this was a good guy. And a coach. More about that tomorrow.