Fans of SRO Ben Fields v. Lawsuits for Excessive Force and Racial Profiling

respect for the law, racial profiling, SRO Ben Fields, school resources officer, officer slam, school police, police brutality, school discipline, School police, school police officer, excessive force, right to use force, SRO, Spring Valley High School, respect authority, authoritarianism, police brutality, child abuse,
This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Officer Slam: Police in School

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.

respect for the law, racial profiling, SRO Ben Fields, school resources officer, officer slam, school police, police brutality, school discipline, School police, school police officer, excessive force, right to use force, SRO, Spring Valley High School, respect authority, authoritarianism, police brutality, child abuse,

(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)

Sources:

  • 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/

Series Navigation<< What’s the Purpose of American Public Schools, Education or Discipline?

4 thoughts on “Fans of SRO Ben Fields v. Lawsuits for Excessive Force and Racial Profiling

  1. One of my first thoughts was that the officer was given the job of physically removing the student from the class room, and was officially fired for using an unapproved and unecessarily rough technique to remove her. How did the other adults involved let it get to that situation? Was it appropriate to call a police officer to physically remove a student for a cell phone violation? I wasn’t there and don’t know the entire situation, but it doesn’t seem quite right base on what little I do know. There was also an implication that if he used approved techniques to physically force her out of the classroom, the situation would have been acceptable? Hmmm….
    By the way, there has been a big change in society in the last 10 years in that roughly 100% of the population carries phones at all times. Many police officers and politicians have not quite realized the implications of this.

  2. This situation got out of Controle the moment the teacher did not for instance let the situation be and tell the girl to stay after class, and go on with teaching. That the principal did not calm the situation but his actions even escalated more by calling the officer, who had no reason to act in the way he did.
    I have read a lot of comments who blame the girl, she called this upon herself. Which ofcourse is plain nonsense. Others blame the officer acting aggressively as he did, seemingly not having defusing a situation qualities.
    Who has to take responsibility here. Not the girl, she didn’t let the situation escalate. What action will be taken what the teacher, the principal is concerned.
    And what has a police officer being called for such a trivial situation? Teacher with even a minimal

    1. Sorry, answering with smartphone, something did go wrong.
      A teacher with even a little minimum of pedagogical skills could/should have been able to deal with the girl.
      Sometimes I get the impression that many Americans seem to fear teenager in some shape or form. Treating the a some sort of not be trusted, not be respected kind of humans who let their emotions go wild, not having common sense. How can adults expect respect if they do not respect their teens, as the young adults they are. Respect is a two-way street.

      1. Exactly. The emphasis on total obedience just gives away teachers’ fear and inabilities. Teenagers per definition question authority, as well they should. It’s part of the process of becoming an individual. Black teenagers are considered as an extra problem as the numbers show.

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