Let’s talk about #assaultatspringvalley

I’m going to start this with something I said yesterday.

What will be painful: they’ve got CNN on in this damn waiting room, and they keep going back to that poor kid getting her ass beat by that cop in South Carolina the other day.  Having to watch/hear the footage is rage-inducing enough; I swear to God if I have to listen to some fucking Hoosier conversation about it I’m gonna go to jail today, and it’s good that we’re already at the hospital.

I have a new policy, and I’m sticking to this motherfucker: if I am ever in public where a 24-hour news station is audibly playing over a television set, and I’m in a situation, like a waiting room, where I literally cannot get away from the TV, I’m unplugging the goddamned thing, and to hell with the consequences.

I had to spend several hours in a waiting room yesterday because my mother was having her hip replaced (as of last speaking to her, around 6:30 PM last night, she’s doing astonishingly well; I’ll see her again this afternoon after I get my son from school.)  CNN was on on the television in the waiting room.  It was on multiple TVs, so there was nowhere in the room I could have gone to get away from it, and I’d neglected to bring earphones with me– not that I really could have used them, since my aunt and my dad were both with me and that would have been kind of rude.

CNN kept lying, or putting people on the TV who were lying for them– like, for example, the police chief, who insisted that there were no complaints against “Officer Slam” despite the fact that he’s the subject of a lawsuit right now.  And the chief kept blaming the kid for starting the altercation, and the fact that she’d hit the police officer kept coming up.

Note that, at that time, I had not seen the “third video” that showed her hitting him, so I was just going on faith that it had happened and that it was more or less as those describing it said.  CNN wasn’t showing it.

I was managing to keep it together.  I’ll be fine, I remember thinking to myself, so long as no one around me starts a conversation about this bullshit that I can hear.  And here’s the thing: shit woulda been the same even if the people talking had completely agreed with everything I think.  I cannot tolerate this kind of evil any longer, and my blood pressure meds and mood-altering drugs are not enough to overcome the rage.  I don’t know that anything is.

So naturally the old white lady sitting across from me had to start yammering about how Kids These Days and how everything was the girl’s fault.

It… did not go well.  Now, on my end: I am actually trained in crisis intervention, and I’ve been in dozens of situations over the years (read Searching for Malumba— I talk about a bunch of them!) where keeping an absolute lock on 1) my emotions; 2) my language; 3) my tone of voice, and 4) my physical stance and presence were absolutely critical to keeping things from going very south.

I referred to her solely as “ma’am” during the entire conversation.  I did not raise my voice, I did not so much as lean forward, and I kept my laptop in my lap and my hands on the keyboard during the entire conversation.

It began with me pointing out that I have been involved in urban education for fifteen years, and during that time I have had literally dozens of situations where it was necessary to remove a student from my classroom, and at not one time during all those years was violence, much less that level of violence, necessary to remove the student from my classroom.

“That man should be in jail,” I said.  “He has committed assault against a child, and he should be in jail.”

She tried to tell me– I swear to God this is true– that I didn’t understand what kids were like “these days.”

That didn’t go too well either.

Yammering about how she’d hit the cop.

“So what?  That’s a sixteen-year-old girl sitting in a chair.  He’s a grown-ass man in body armor who can bench press 600 pounds.  Who cares if she hit him?  What difference does it make?”

She asked me what I would have done “if that ever happened to you,” apparently not having heard anything I’d said.

I pointed out again that it had happened, repeatedly, as well as any number of other situations far more dangerous than a moody child sitting in a desk, and that I had resolved those situations without resorting to violence.

“Well, I suppose you’re just an expert, then, aren’t you?” she sneered.

Eye contact.

“Yes.  I am.”

She wasn’t expecting that response, I think.

At that point she started babbling about relatives who used to be teachers and a friend who used to be a cop and blah blah blah I cut her off.  Pointed at the TV.  “That’s your child,” I said.  “Right there.  That’s your little girl being dragged across the floor by a grown man who can bench press six hundred pounds.  If you can seriously look at that and place any of the blame on the child, ma’am, you very badly need to examine your soul.”

At that point, my dad leaned forward a bit, holding a hand out toward me; I think he thought I might be about to get up.  Nah.  I got this.

At some point she shut up.  Interestingly, the guy she was with– he didn’t vibe husband or boyfriend, but they were definitely together– only spoke about three times during the conversation, and only did so to agree with me.

A few minutes later, once the press conference was on, CNN had some sort of ed person– maybe a principal, maybe a Ph.D researcher, I dunno– on, and the anchor asked him what the proper reaction to that situation should have been.  The man went on to more or less exactly repeat what I had said, which was gratifying.

I didn’t speak.  I did, however, point at the TV.

It is good for everyone that I had not seen this video prior to that conversation.  This is the magical “third video,” the one that shows the girl “hitting” the police officer.  Basically the whole thing is repeating the first few seconds in slow-motion over and over again, so once you’ve watched the first fifteen seconds or so you’re probably good.

Trigger warning.  This fucked me up for most of last evening.  I suggest you not watch the video, and just trust me that I’m describing it accurately.  If you’re human, this will enrage you.

That’s “hitting” to these people, and if you click through to YouTube you will see that the headline appears to have been written by someone who may be wrapped in human skin but almost certainly lacks any actual humanity.

“Officer Slam” has grabbed this child around her neck with one hand, and with the other he is reaching underneath her legs.  She flails backwards at him with both hands.

There is literally no way for this to be any more clearly self-defense than it is.  Furthermore, given the angles of the two, and the fact that he’s got her by the neck, the risk to the “police officer” is minimal at best.  And let’s not forget, either, that he initiated the contact.

I had thought, from the media reports, that she had punched him before he went after her.  No.  Not even close.

If you can watch that, and you still think that the actions of the child are in any way relevant to what went on, there is something terribly, terribly wrong with you.

Furthermore: watch carefully the reaction of the other teenagers in the room.  Think carefully about that.  There is just about nothing kids like watching more than somebody else getting their ass beat.  In damn near any classroom in the country a scene like that would have produced pandemonium.  Half the kids would be doing their best Chris Tucker impressions and a handful of them would be screaming at the cop.  They’d be out of their seats and running around.  A couple of them would be standing on desks to watch.

Not one of those fucking kids moves.

Because they are terrified.

That kind of fear has no place in a school, ever.  This man should not only be fired (granted, he has) he should be jailed, and it is abundantly clear that he should never have been allowed inside the walls of a school to begin with.  Any of the bullshit charges filed against the two students who were arrested should be dropped immediately, and the young woman hurled to the floor should at the very least have her college tuition paid for by the police department.

I’ve said this before, and I have to remind myself of it every day: I have liked every police officer I have ever personally known, and in particular the three SROs I’ve worked with over the years have all been professionals who were good at their jobs and worked to build rapport with their students instead of ruling by fear and intimidation.

But that reminder is mattering less and less the longer this goes on.

America’s police officers need to patrol their ranks, they need to eliminate the deep, deep, deep rot that exists within their organizations, and they need to do it right now.  Because the police are, more and more every day, looking less like a group of people whose job is to “serve and protect” and more like a mercenary army who are not only allowed but encouraged to kill and injure the rest of us as they see fit without any chance of consequences.

This must stop.  Now.

Published by

Luther M. Siler

Teacher, writer of words, and local curmudgeon. Enthusiastically profane. Occasionally hostile.

15 thoughts on “Let’s talk about #assaultatspringvalley

  1. This is going to be another one of those posts where the “my blog, my rules” policy comes into full effect. I am emphatically not interested in a debate. Feel like arguing with me? Start your own blog and do it there. The banhammer is out and I am not remotely afraid to use it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I want to like and re-like this post. I say, even if she DID punch him more than once, his response was beyond matching the “crime”.

    Very good point about the other kids in the classroom.

    I had asked M how this would have gone down at his school. They would have likely called me, gotten the school resource officer involved, waited him out (gotta move sometime) and then served suspension papers to keep him off school property pending investigation/further action.

    Actually, before that, since it was over a cell phone that she wasn’t turning in (right?), they would have called me and told me that M was would be on in-school suspension (if not outright suspension) for the next day or three for not complying with their electronics usage rules. Forget losing the phone for the day, it goes right to step 2 at that point.

    I also wondered on FB about how on earth did we ever get through school with situations like these, because they did happen way back in the dark ages of the 80s with thngs other than cell phones, before school resource officers were a thing. So of course, someone I usually clash with on social viewpoints pointed out that maybe corporal punishment should be allowed back in schools again. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hell, I didn’t even get to the part where it started over her pulling out her cell phone. Do you have any idea how many students I’ve taken cell phones away from? And how many of those students didn’t want their phones taken away? Fucking insanity.

      This should have ended with the teacher saying “put that away, please,” which she DID. You don’t even get to the point where you’re taking the thing unless she’s got it out constantly– and if that was the case, they’d have told us about it by now.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. my [various types of science] teacher, a sixish-foot tall, not slightly-built man, waded into the middle of a fight in the cafeteria once, and got slugged in the head for his trouble before managing to separate the combatants… who presumably were suspended afterwards but who were never manhandled more than it took to get them each into a chair until they could be herded down to the office by unarmed adults. of course, this was Back in the Day, before the school’s doors were locked all the time, and there were metal detectors, and a cop on duty for security. back when we weren’t safe. when things were terrible.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think the “Kids these days” excuse is just that, an excuse. That cop should not be around kids at all. When I was in high school (talking early 70’s) students hit teachers. They weren’t hit back. They were sent to other schools. My own brother hit a teacher for calling him a “lazy Mexican” because he was tardy. He punched the teacher in the arm and was sent to continuation school. He wasn’t hit back. It didn’t become a national issue. So it’s not kids these days. It had been happening for years. It’s just that we hear about it now. And I think police are not trained to deal with situations in anything but assault mode. You’re right. It has to stop.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The girl is 16 – a teenager. Teenagers can be stubborn, belligerent, and tough, especially when they have an audience. Any adult who doesn’t understand that should not be in a position of dealing with those teenagers. That so-called police officer was a bully and has been fired, I understand. He reminds me of my psycho wannabe-cop neighbor who thought he was going to bully the old people across the street – and lost.


  6. I was also struck by the lack of reaction by the other students. I can’t imagine what was going on inside their heads at the time, but I’m sure it was nothing that they should have ever had to experience either.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s shocking. I agree with you, no man or woman can support violence against a child by an officer who should be protecting her in the first place. This is the reason why the youth don’t trust the force anymore. Thanks for sharing Luther.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I could not agree with you more. I had a conversation with a colleague earlier in the week and I was shocked by his vehemence against the girl and supporting the officer. It doesn’t matter what a kid says, whether she/he is posing as, talking like, or looking like an adult. She/he is still a child and no adult – especially a trained officer – needs to use that much force ESPECIALLY to remove someone who is just sitting there. 😦


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