A South Carolina school resource officer slammed a black high school female to the ground with her desk and forced her arrest, reveal videos that went viral on Monday.
"Parents are heartbroken as this is just another example of the intolerance that continues to be of issue in Richland School District Two particularly with families and children of color," read a statement by the Richland Two Black Parents Association. "As we have stated in the past, we stand ready to work in collaboration to address these horrible acts of violence and inequities among our children.”
The officer, Ben Fields, has been banned from the Richland school district as they investigate the incident.
Fields reportedly entered the classroom after reports the girl and another male student were disturbing the school. When the student refused to get up, Fields is heard saying, “I'm going to get you up,” puts her in a chokehold, flips her back along with her desk, and drags her across the floor. After shocked reactions by classmates, a voice responds, “I'm going to put you in jail next.” The assaulted female student and another male student were arrested, but the girl was released, according to the local television station.
Since Fields joined the sheriff's department of Richland County in 2004, two other residents have reported his misconduct, one of his similarly rough tackling of a man accused of a noise complaint, and another for wrongly accusing a student of being a member of a gang. Fields was an officer at both the local elementary school and the majority-black Spring Valley High School, where he was also a football coach.
The student that filmed the incident told reporters that he has a reputation for physically attacking students, though he received the district's Excellence Award last year for his model service.
According to a Mother Jones report published in July, at least 29 school officers abused their power in U.S. schools in the past five years, resulting in many injuries and one death. The number of school-based police officers has dramatically risen during that time, and several school districts have even armed officers.
“School should be a place to learn and grow, not a place to be brutalized,” Victoria Middleton, the executive director for the South Carolina branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, told the New York Times. “We must take action to address the criminalization of children in South Carolina, especially at school.”