On a Monday afternoon a few weeks ago, a video of a sixteen year old African American girl being ripped from her chair by a police officer began to go viral, sparking a nation-wide outrage. It is a video that can only be described as disturbing, and a story that we have heard countless times before. The incident occurred at Spring Valley High in South Carolina, and the officer in question, Ben Fields, was later terminated from the Richard Country sheriffs department.
The video opens up on Fields standing over the student as she sits in her desk, and he then proceeds to put his hands near her neck and rip her backwards from her desk. He slams her to the floor where she is then handcuffed and led out the classroom.
The incident is said to have occurred after the young girl refused to comply to her teachers demands, and would not put away her phone. The teacher was said to have asked multiple times, and later called a school administrator, and finally the officer. Another video emerged later, which showed the beginning of the scuffle in which the student “hits” the officer as he starts to engage with her.
This incident has had backlash across social media and other media outlets. The question of if the officer was in his right has been picked apart during debates and countless discussions. The lead sheriff in the investigation, Leon Lott, stated that Fields did not follow the correct procedures in the incident, and even claims that the school should have never even called the department.
Lott called in the FBI to do a “civil rights investigation” of the situation. When a sheriff is the one making such a call, it shows that this was a violation of the girl’s civil rights. It is not the first time something like this has happened, and will undoubtedly happen again.
The prevalence of police brutality, especially against African Americans, is being exposed with the help of social media in the past few years. This incident is indeed an issue of race. A young, black girl was ripped from her chair by an officer not only larger in size, but higher in authoritative power.
The student who filmed the original video, Tony Robinson Jr., stated, “I’ve never seen anything so nasty looking, so sick to the point that you know, other students are turning away, don’t know what to do, and are just scared for their lives, That’s supposed to be somebody that’s going to protect us. Not somebody that we need to be scare off, or afraid.”
The young girl, who has been in the foster system, and who has already suffered enough, can now be added to the long list of young African Americans who have been victims of police brutality and the injustices of our criminal justice system. We can only hope that this circumstance can shine light on an issue that has become a plague on our society, but sadly, we will probably see a similar video in due time.