- Spring Valley High School Student Violently Arrested by SRO Ben Fields
- What’s the Purpose of American Public Schools, Education or Discipline?
- SRO Ben Fields: Fans of and Lawsuits for Excessive Force, Racial Profiling
SRO Ben Fields had lawsuits filed against him, for excessive force and for racial profiling. Yet the police and the school were okay with letting him loose on kids, and so are many others.
(11-01-2015, updated 07-14-2018) School Resources Officer Ben Fields had two lawsuits filed against him, for excessive force and for targeting black students (which I guess is a synonym for racial profiling, but for schools). Were these the first ever incidents that he was perceived as violent and racist? It’s possible. But one his nicknames was Officer Slam. If he had been violent before (racism is harder to prove), then it was pretty careless hiring on the part of Spring Valley High School. Another indication that this wasn’t the first time this SRO was violent.
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 SRO Ben Fields, who acted the way we’ve all seen on the video, definitely using excessive force. 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 is supposed 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 respect for 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. She has the right to stand up against authoritarianism. The school has also learned something, I hope: respect is a two-way street. The way the teacher, the assistant principal and SRO Ben Fields 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 excessive force, a.k.a. 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.
This post is Part 3 in the series Officer Slam: Police in school.
(This post was first published on the blog Resident Alien: Being Dutch in America, under the title: “Officer Slam 3: A Sea of Troubles”, 11-01-2015)
- Bouie, Jamelle. “Lessons in Brutality: It’s shocking to watch a black student violently arrested in school. What is more shocking is how common it is”. Slate, October 27 2015 5:25 PM. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/10/spring_valley_high_school_resource_officer_ben_field_s_violent_arrest_of.html
Header image: Still from video from Boddie, Michael T. “The Adventures of ‘Officer Slam'”.HUMANBODDIE: A Curious Human’s Take on What Happens in a World Run by Humans, October 30, 2015. https://humanboddie.com/2015/10/30/the-adventures-of-officer-slam/