At this point, you’re probably getting pretty sick of reading about the 300-pound (former) School Resource Officer Ben Fields and his violent actions that involved slamming and throwing a 16-year-old girl across a classroom earlier this week.
You’ve probably seen the comments from those that support the officer, “if she would have just done as she was told, this wouldn’t have happened.” Hell, that was even implied when Sheriff Lott announced that Fields, also known as “Officer Slam” – a running name that was given to the officer long before he hit the headlines – was fired.
But, there are a few things that really need to be known before we file it away as a situation involving “just another out of control, disrespectful teen who was taught a lesson by a cop.” This seems to be the far-too-common-ending in a land where liberty and individual autonomy are in the very foundation of our republic.
Todd Rutherford, State Representative and the Democratic Minority Leader of the South Carolina House of Representatives is the attorney representing Shakara, the girl assaulted in the classroom. He spoke on the Joe Madison Show clearing up some of the misinformation surrounding this case – including the claim that the girl is an orphan.
I met with her mother and Shakara, who is the child. I met with both of them. And then later I met with the mother and the grandmother. So, the mother and grandmother are both alive and well.
However, the fact that Shakara isn’t an orphan doesn’t really matter. Individuals in our country, including our children, have the right to not be beat up by the police. Period.
So any sympathy that little soundbite garnered should still be felt for the 16-year-old girl because: she got beat up by a 300 pound police officer!
Officer Slam Had A Track Record
Niya Kenny is a student at Spring Valley High School where the incident happened. She was in the classroom and witnessed the out of control cop’s behavior. Ultimately, Kenny, who is also being represented by Rutherford, was arrested on disruption charges because she refused to surrender her phone to the officer after recording the incident and verbally reacting when she saw her fellow student slammed and thrown across the classroom.
In the Joe Madison Show interview, Rutherford described Kenny’s actions that resulted in her arrest. According to the representative, in response to the violence she was witnessing Kenny asked the other men in the room, “Are you all not going to do something about this? Don’t you see what is going on? Do you think this is right? Are y’all not going to do anything?”
Rutherford then says:
The officer, after beating up Shakara, walked out of the classroom, came back in, looked at the 18-year-old female, and pointed in her face, this child, and said, ‘You want some of this too?’ And, she said, ‘no sir,’ and turned around and got handcuffed and was taken to jail.
Kenny appeared on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes and said:
He’s known as ‘Officer Slam’ around our school. I’ve heard he’s in the past slammed pregnant women, teenage girls. He’s known for slamming.
She continues, “I’ve heard about him, so I wasn’t really surprised, because I’ve heard so much about him. Before he came to the class, I was actually telling [fellow students], ‘Take out your cameras because I feel like this is gonna go downhill because I’ve heard so much about him.’”
A quick Google search also reveals that Officer Slam is no stranger to allegations of brutality and racism. Army Veteran Carlos Martin experienced a similarly violent altercation with the deputy:
Martin said Fields slammed him to the ground, kicked him, handcuffed him and sprayed him with mace. Fields ‘snapped’ when Martin called him ‘dude.’
In this incident, the officer emptied an entire canister of pepper spray on Martin.
The case was later dismissed, but the similarities and use of brute force are certainly deserving of our consideration.
There is also another case which involves a student from the same high school. It is scheduled for a jury trial in January in which Officer Slam is one of ten defendants.
The End Doesn’t Justify The Means
Classmates describe Shakara as a quiet girl – not a trouble-maker. Her infraction in this incident, prior to Officer Slam SLAMMING her to the classroom floor, was not putting her cell phone away fast enough and refusing to surrender it when confronted by her math teacher. When asked to leave the room, she sat in her seat, quietly, refusing to leave.
Is that really enough to justify what came next?
It was initially reported by the sheriff that no injury came from this. However, we now learn that Officer Slam’s attack did cause bodily harm. The girl was hospitalized overnight Monday for her injuries.
Rutherford spoke to local news about Shakara’s injuries:
“He weighs about 300 pounds. She is a student who is 16 years old. Who now has a cast on her arm, a band aid on her neck, and neck and back problems. There’s something wrong here.”
Fascism In America
Since when did Americans decide that absolute power and fascism is okay? How is it even remotely possible for people to attempt to justify the assault and injury of a child by a 300 pound civil servant who is supposed to be protector – not attacker? Especially for an infraction like having a cell phone out in class and begging to not be thrown out of the classroom. Zero tolerance is just another way of saying intolerance – only in an acceptable form.
Have we become so jaded, so intolerant, so trusting of our authority figures (who have provided us with more than ample evidence to show they are not without flaw) that we have forgotten the rights of an individual – even a child?
Time and time again we’ve seen it. Individuals justifying the brutality of officers with a viewpoint that if the victims were “following orders” they wouldn’t have been hurt.
That’s not my America. It shouldn’t be yours either. Certainly, authority is needed and should be respected. However, every little slight should not be met with violence. In fact, such force should ONLY be used in situations where the violence is that of the perpetrator, rather than the cop becoming the perpetrator.
Arrest Officer Slam – he is a threat to society. What is an even bigger threat? The fact that there are many, many Americans who look at this situation and their first response is, “She should do what she was told” rather than “Why the hell is there a cop on the ready to arrest my kid at their school?”
Listen to the full interview of Todd Rutherford on the Joe Madison Show here:[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/230616408″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
Featured image via IfYouOnlyNews.com