More Disturbing Police News

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buenos dia de los muertos

By now you will have seen these videos of Peace Officer Ben Fields brutalizing an as yet unnamed 16-year-old black woman at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina.

Apparently the student was looking at her cell phone when her math teacher demanded she give it to him, then to leave the classroom.  She refused both orders, and the teacher called in a school administrator whose orders she also refused. The school official then called in one of the school cops, and seven-year school ‘resource officer’ veteran ‘Officer Slam’, as some students called him, took charge, finally cuffing and arresting her for ‘disturbing school’.


Fields has been fired, and the incident will be investigated by the FBI and Justice Department for potential civil rights violations.

The young woman  had been recently orphaned following the deaths of both her mother and grandmother, and had been placed in the foster care system, so was relatively new to the school.  Some fellow students interviewed by media indicated that she didn’t talk much (small wonder).  There were a few kids who blamed her, of course, and opined that she wanted to be seen as badass. 

CNN notes that Officer Friendly Field’s career has been marked with ‘both lawsuits and praise’, but accusations of his brutality and excessive use of force even extended to current Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott in one civil suit.  Lott was apparently upset by the video evidence in this case.  Field’s attorney is claiming that his client’s actions were entirely justified, and urges people to find the cell phone video that clearly shows the young woman trying to strike him with her fist, as in the first one.  Gosh, it’s hard to believe that she’d try to fight back a bit as she was being grabbed around the neck, isn’t it?

Imagine my surprise, though, when early this morning I saw headlines about a student walk-out on Friday in defense of Ben Fields, and demanding that he be re-hired.  Coverage ranges from reports of a hundred to several hundred students having participated.  Nah, I won’t dignify their action by embedding videos, but you can check out the #BringBackFields hashtag if you’re curious.  And no, they aren’t all white kids, crazily enough.

One aspect of this sick cop’s behavior I hadn’t considered, embarrassingly enough, is expressed well by Chamelia Moore’s ‘Brutality as Discipline: ‘Manifestations of Slavery in The Case of Ben Fields’.  Of course we’ve seen it before, but somehow my attention was equally taken by the passivity of everyone in the room, although another student friend was also arrested for ‘disturbing school’ yelling her objections.  But then I hadn’t yet I the video view in which he kneels his 300+ lb. of beef down on her back.

“Despite Richland County sheriff Leon Lott’s initial dismissal of the incident as race related due to Fields’ being in an interracial relationship, the FBI and Justice Department have effectively initiated a civil rights investigation.

But it is not merely the misconduct of Deputy Fields that has caused national disdain, it is the underlying message that often gets lost within most incidents of violence toward young people of color by law enforcement: they are subject to comparatively harsher treatment and punishment than their white counterparts in the educational and judicial systems, specifically young girls. Most disturbing is the majority of these incidents involve white male officers exercising brutality as discipline, and many doing so in a nature that is covertly sexual.

The question we all must ask is why it normal for young women of color to undergo dehumanizing and deprecating forms of social and behavioral training, which is to ultimately probe the lived and imagined understandings of black womanhood. Innocence, vulnerability, and defiance—characteristics of youth and adolescence— do not register as traits young girls of color would possess, as their bodies albeit not adult “inhabit a sex/gender hierarchy in which inequalities of race and gender are sexualized.” These peculiar margins prevent and distort entrance into a phase of being that their white counterparts are not denied.

Is it odd then, that in disciplining girls of color authorities deem it necessary to dominate than to teach; to attack as opposed to solve? It does not matter how big or small or threatening she is, what she is actually doing or even wearing, it is what her body represents: a body to be tamed.

Perhaps acting on instinct, Fields exemplifies this daunting reality. If it is his natural inclination to body slam and drag a young woman of color across a room when she defies his authority, it is likely that he does not value her life in the same way he values his own. Him sharing a relationship with a black woman does not mean he sees her or other black women as equals, and this is made obvious in his disturbing handling of the situation he was called to attend.

Furthermore, such “disciplining” instills fear in not only this student but in everyone who had to witness it, in all who could do nothing but try not to look at the darkness of unrestrained, uniformed white supremacy.”

Her ‘covertly sexual’ link goes to Zeba Blay’s ‘For Black Women, Police Brutality And Sexual Harassment Go Hand In Hand’, in which she discusses the groping and rape-like physical dominance so often brought to bear by Serve and Protect Police while ‘subduing’ them.  And of course, the same thing happens to women of any hue that have been deemed as ‘criminally suspect’; Cecily MacMillan, for one.  But the sexual aspect is indeed one worth further consideration.

In a moment of synchronicity, just hours before this young woman was body-slammed to the ground by Fields, a newsletter was sent to concerned black parents in the district.  The Guardian’s coverage is: ‘‘South Carolina officer’s forceful removal of student comes as studies note striking divide in black and white youths’ expulsion and suspension rates; School-to-prison pipeline’ faces new scrutiny with data on race and discipline’ .  The data are impressive, and of course, bleak.

~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~

In other unjust police news:

From her coverage at SputnikNews:

“Lieutenant Mark Tiller was well within his rights to shoot and kill the teenager on July 26, according to the State Law Enforcement Division. 
“After careful consideration of the facts of the case, a thorough review of the State investigation, and an extensive review of all applicable law, I have determined that no criminal charges should be filed against Lt. Mark Tiller at the State level,” wrote 10th Circuit Solicitor Chrissy Adams in a statement. “I met with the Hammond family today and have informed them of this decision.”

The shocking nature of this decision is compounded by the fact that the video they released appears to contradict the official story.

Tiller had claimed that he feared for his life when Hammond attempted to strike him with his vehicle as he fled.  An independent autopsy however showed that the teenager was shot in the back, meaning any perceived threat had already passed when he was shot.

The video confirms that Tiller fired into the vehicle after it had already passed him.  The officer is then heard yelling “He tried to hit me!”

While the state will not be pursuing charges, there is still an open investigation by federal authorities who could charge Tiller.”

“The attorney representing the family in their lawsuit against the Seneca Police Department and Tiller released a statement calling the decision surprising and disappointing.

Their suit alleges that Tiller threatened to “blow his head off” before he fired.  It is slightly inaudible in the video.  It also alleges another officer high-fived the teen’s lifeless body after he was killed.  His body was then left on the ground for 90 minutes where it was soon covered by ants.”
Rest in power, Zachary Hammond, and may your family eventuall fnd sme measure of peace one day.
zachary hammond

21 responses to “More Disturbing Police News

  1. FWIW, a frame-by-frame view of the video clearly shows that that girl’s first contact with Fields was a move to THROW OFF the hand he had just placed on her right shoulder; he then upended her, and she either flailed for balance on the way down, or tried and failed to strike him on the way down, no way to distinguish.

    While being in general agreement with your outrage at police excesses, I must point out that there are conflicting interests in this case that make the analysis a little complicated. Armed cops in schools make mass shootings less likely. But once you have a cop there, he will act like a cop, including overcoming disobedience to lawful orders with physical force. How much force is too much depends on a lot of things, but we can’t hold every cop responsible for knowing about every citizen’s sad past family history, can we? Can we?

    Can we insist on zero physical contact, and allow a student who breaks rules to hold an entire classroom situation hostage until he/she decides he/she’s been obstinate long enough? What if he/she is being truly disruptive?; do we still insist on zero physical contact to remove him/her? (Note: not sure that this girl was being that disruptive in this instance.)

    The shooting death of the white boy you discuss above is a travesty, as is the Guilford case we’ve discussed previously. Both white boys, unarmed, no serious criminal acts, just as angelic-looking as any black victim of police excess. I continue to believe that those deaths deserve all the attention and outrage that gets mustered up by the BLM adherents.

    All in all, a thoroughly revolting reality.

    • wow; just wow, realitychecker. you say the pig put his hand on her shoulder. no, he was going for a modified choke hold around her neck. and oh, fuck him if she popped him once or twice in reflex. no, it is I who care about the young woman’s tragic life, but the fucking administrator should have known, too, and not called the cop. so he tosses her chair backward to the ground, drags her across the floor…for failure to obey his Royal PoPo-ness. sorry, that’s the story. she seems to have a broken arm, too, but i can’t remember where i read that.

      no: there is never an appropriate time to lay hands on a student for such a minor infraction. there are many other better ways it could have been handled.

      yer just killin’ me with your black lives matter bigotry. who the hell ya think has been keepin’ this case alive? yep, you guessed it. the Black Lives twittersphere and their social justice allies of other hues. same for guilford.

      • realitychecker1

        Calm down, m’dear, all I did was check for the truth of the original cover story, i.e., that she started it by punching him; once I saw for sure that she was only trying to remove his hand, I was done, I did not try to divine what the cop INTENDED to do next.

        I just read a write-up of this case on Kos (I know, I know, but they send me emails, so sometimes I click lol). If they are accurate, this was even more ridiculous than I first thought, the school officials seem to have made it an ego thing for no good reason. Worth a scan, including two interviews from other students present. If true, their versions are pretty damning of the cop AND the school teacher and administrator (I won’t inflict one of my incompetent links on y’all.)

        Was it indeed BLM that kept that white boy shooting story alive? I saw no evidence of such, even Drudge covered it. But it’s certainly not “bigotry” that leads me to think their strategy is a poor and divisive one, and you should know better than to use that word with me. I truly believe that all lives are equal, and that a united front that is framed as a united front is better than a predictably divisive one. (And one needs only read some mainstream comment threads to see how terribly divisive it really is.)

        Still an unanswered question as to when one should stop “just talking” to a truly disruptive student, i.e., NOT this girl, but have you also seen the classroom melee where the principal was thrown down like a sack of potatoes by a brawling student who towered over him and was allegedly 13-15 years old? How much disruption is appropriately to be allowed to sabotage everybody else’s day before you actually touch the disrupter and make it stop? I don’t think anyone has come up with a good answer to that yet. It can’t reasonably be required to do endless talk therapy on the spot while all the other students sit and watch. Where is the line to be set? There seems to be no consensus.

        In any case, the bottom line remains the same–the PTB do violence at will, and the people who don’t like it just carry signs and chant slogans. Very effective so far./s

        • Still an unanswered question as to when one should stop “just talking” to a truly disruptive student, i.e., NOT this girl, but have you also seen the classroom melee where the principal was thrown down like a sack of potatoes by a brawling student who towered over him and was allegedly 13-15 years old? How much disruption is appropriately to be allowed to sabotage everybody else’s day before you actually touch the disrupter and make it stop? I don’t think anyone has come up with a good answer to that yet. It can’t reasonably be required to do endless talk therapy on the spot while all the other students sit and watch. Where is the line to be set? There seems to be no consensus.

          In a wider view of public education (and even education in general) these days, this is a critical issue that really gets complicated by the presence of police on campus. And disruption is only one of the issues.

          School systems have been ordered to mainstream handicapped students into their classes. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the theory is that diluting the number of handicapped children in normal classrooms makes dealing with their disabilities easier. The second is that school districts have been cutting cost by shedding special education teachers with all sort of specialities. When the students have behavioral and emotional handicaps the situation gets complicated. And there are a small proportion of students who cannot yet be mainstreamed. This is not a law enforcement issue. In fact law enforcement is singularly incompetent at handling disruptions of this nature and usually turn them into tragedies. Moreso if law enforcement is dealing with the same types of people as adults instead of as children. It is a huge issue that no one is willing to devote resources to figuring out how to deal with it. It also involves interaction with parents about emotional support, nutrition, lifestyle issues, and the parents’ own behavioral issues. And addictions also play into some situations. The past forty years have made a huge mess of families in this country.

          Thinking that strict rules in school will fix it fails to understand what has been learned about how to deal with behavior issues.

          And it does not help to pretend that there are not systematic institutional actions of discrimination built into the system and the expectations of even minority teachers and professional staff that get unconsciously played out in interactions with students.

          Good you are back and commenting, rc. Missed your reality-checking.

          • As usual, amigo, every word you wrote is both thoughtful and true, and thank you for your welcoming words. Careful analysis of our type is not universally appreciated, and not all here have welcomed all my efforts at advancing such. Not a new problem, but I know you understand the pitfalls of analysis without an obvious and overriding devotion to team affiliation, and I so appreciate you for it.

            Hope your health and happiness are in thriving mode these days. ;-)

            • it’s good, plus educational, to note that in your opinion there are two of you at the café with the same intellectual and analytical heft. that gives me the space to say that my RL issues are full enough again that i have scant time to add to my comment above, now that the smoke has subsided a little bit.

              but i do hope you’ll read THD’s general comment; it acts as a counterpoint to some of your sillier contentions.

              peace as you are able, realitychecker.

              on edit: i’d meant to say “i have scant time to add to my comment above” about the way your ignorance biases you.

        • i thank you for the invitation to ‘calm down’, realitychecker, but i’ll hae to decline. i might try to respond to you comment when and it the smoke coming out of my ears…lessens.

          for now, allow me to say a couple things. one is that my understanding of the original meaning of bigotry is ‘bias and intolerance based on ignorance. yes, the term fits, imo.

          it was insanely present on my ‘respectability politics’ diary on which you and another commenter seemed hell-bent on *willfully* misunderstanding what i wrote, or others i’d referenced in the OP had written. it was very vexing to try (and fail) to work around your (and her) biases due to abject ignorance, or predetermined beliefs.

          as i’d said on some other long thread, ‘reality’ isn’t as simple to peg down as you’d like to believe, and yours and my realities diverge quite radically on many issues. sleep well.

          • Wendy, your reality on this issue is so obviously biased by your personal interests that I really don’t know what to say to you. Maybe relying a bit less on the black Twitterverse when searching for “reality” might help. It’s not exactly a source devoted to careful balanced judgments.

            I have devoted my life to doing careful analysis based on the available reliable evidence, in situations where the consequences of errors were real and immediate. I am always open to revising my opinion if presented with good evidence-note my second comment on this thread for evidence of that. That is my religion and my life commitment. Not any team affiliation.

            Sorry if that upsets you on any particular issue. You just need to accept that my devotion to finding truth and rejecting falsity is much greater than my desire to be an activist on any particular issue. That’s never gonna change, so if you want to disinvite me, well, you have the power.

            I hate to think I make your ears smoke. :-( “Bigot” is an inflammatory word, and you know it, and when you double down in using it against me, you make my ears and eyes smoke.

            I remind you of my recent comment about the left and it’s tendency to form a circular firing squad to purge the not-pure-enough.

            • ‘disinvite you’. well, no. but what i will try to do is engage you over mind-reading my incentives in these cases, as if my bias is evident because; WHATever you and juliania believe it to be. or that your “frame by frame” analysis might have been due to ‘the over-arching story line’ or whatever.

              sorry that you find my notion of bigotry repellent, but there’s not a soul that doesn’t have some bigotry quotient, including myownself.

              your always and forever ‘reality belief’ that blacks don’t give a fook about whites, browns, reds, who are assassinated without due process by police rankles, and i will hope i can stop engaging you about it. “dredge had it!” made my day, seriously.

              you have your storyline reality, and you’re ‘stickin’ to it’; i get it. but i also get that you have the smell of blood in your nostrils. so be it.

              but please, don’t make up shit about my life, my beliefs, my incentives. it does not become you.

    • ‘How much force is too much ?’
      First of all, BALDERDASH!!!

      • christ in a canoe, nomad. i let it run until it played a fox ‘legal analysis’. megan someone and the freak on the left are utter fascists, and exemplify exactly what is wrong with this culture. well, okay, just one thing, but a huge one.

        i’ve written about it at length before after the Sandyhook school killings, but it boils down to the same authoritarian culture and ‘might makes right’ that the world’s only (exceptional) Superpower shows the world.

        schools are supposed to be about ‘teaching’, including demonstrating why and how non-violent ‘disciplines’, not punishments, should be at the core of disputes, not creating scenarios of ‘you do what i say or else!’ as this school did. so yeah, now we have more folks who hate cops, and others who believe that ‘she got what she deserved’, given the role modeling of the school administrator, the teacher, and Officer Protect and Serve Some™.

        • i think you were watching some other video. i don’t recognize any of what you mentioned.

          • oh, sorry; i’d tried to say that i’d let the next one on the youtube cue play, and was duly blown away by the two characters on fox. the man on the right the other dude called ‘oh, great bald one’ or some passive-aggressive diss, was quite clear as to ‘what’s wrong with this picture’. lemme see if i can go find it.

  2. newcomer to your site ms. davis. good stuff. realitychecker1 is in the same world of the bystanders, by sitters, who just sat there, similar tho’ts going thru their minds perhaps? or so shocked AND cowed that even uttering “hey, calm the fuck down!” is extremely difficult.

    we can get up en masse & passively defend each other even if we are not quite up to giving a cop the ass-kicking he so richly deserves. My tho’ts ran to the “don’t taze me bro” john kerry q/a scene and how everyone just sat there and took in the spectacle. prisoners, unable to do anything but watch.

    • nice to have you here, jason, and i hope you’ll stop by often.

      ha, yes; i’d mused that some school cops tase, shackle, and mace ‘uncooperative’ elementary students, and even that might have had been excused by some. but oh, my, john kerry just kept on flappin’ his big mouth, didn’t he? my stars. but look at who he is as SoS, with his ‘dare ya!’ bellicosity. okay, i should credit him and his department for creating the iranian nuclear treaty, so…i will, but grudgingly.

      have you seen, then, some of the women at protests who literally surround young protestors about to be arrested? it’s sincerely inspirational, much like the force of nature as mama bears protect their cubs. ;-)

  3. realitychecker1, if her father or brother or boyfriend had done this you and everybody’d be singing a different tune. The badge & uniform alchemically make it okay by exciting your obedience neurons and endorphines. and if she were a white female of the same age, you might be less likely to accept her being assaulted for not hanging up the phone cuz some cracker in blue tells her to.

    • Jason, I don’t want to chase you away, I welcome new voices into the discussion and am always interested to see what new ideas they might contribute.

      BUT, I must point out, as you can verify quite easily by scanning the recent comments, that some here deem me to be TOO MILITANT, in contrast to your desire to label me as an obedience drone. Someone’s got it wrong, dontcha think? I suggest that if you took both views and put them in a blender, you’d have me pegged much more accurately as someone who considers all probative factors when analyzing a complex situation, someone who can accept that there are usually pros and cons to be considered to any viewpoint, someone who does not approach any issue with an irrevocably predetermined conclusion.

      As to your implication that my sense of justice varies according to skin color or personal relationship, you couldn’t be more wrong. I judge people’s behavior, not their status. And you have to work really, really hard to think I do not condemn the police vis a vis that girl who got body-slammed. The fact is, there are very few people who are more anti-bad-police-behavior in these times than I am. I don’t even mind if people start seeking the bad ones out and executing them. So, wrong again.

      Looking forward to better stuff from you in the future.

    • “that some here deem me to be TOO MILITANT, in contrast to your desire to label me as an obedience drone.” Of course, there is no contradiction; realitychecker just presumes himself a middle when necessary. And then invites you to execute the bad police!!!

      HA HA HA.

      Don’t spend too much time trying to make this nuttery cohere.

  4. My native state in both cases. The idea that putting cops in the schools would prevent mass shootings seems to have not worked, or the cops rarely are in positions where they can prevent anything. Consequently, what has happened is the appearance of “zero tolerance” policies and the use of police to implement the school to prison pipeline. And for a lot of people in the institutions, institutional privilege outweighs evaluating the systematic discrimination that still exists. Recent poster child is Sheriff Clarke of Milwaukee County. Teachers used to have no backup but the parents through the intermediation of the principal. Putting cops in the schools was the NRA’s loony response to Columbine; arming teachers is the NRA’s loony response to Newtown. The Richland sheriff (remember his MRAP) is a bit of a showboat sheriff, like most elected officials involved in law enforcement. The appropriate thing to do is yank all of the cops out of schools and depend on the teachers to exert respect and demand respect. The guerrilla war in public school desegregation has been carried out by teachers as well as parents and students and private schools.

    When I was in public school, teachers typically only confiscated jackknives and returned them at the end of the day with instructions to leave them at home. I fully understand why a student is freaked out by having a phone confiscated.

    The Seneca case is more interesting because of the silence of the #alllivesmatter nitwits about the killing of a white teen by cops. There’s no doubt now that #alllivesmatter is just another way of saying #shutthefuckup. That was a cop who was determined not to let a local kid, who they no doubt knew, escape by just driving off. The bad influence of television dramas no doubt. I hope the Seneca Police Department gets the full legal consequences of their sloppy training.

    There are in fact several issues going on. Institutional racism is one. The “zero tolerance” nonsense promoted by Malcolm Gladwell and the police chiefs who fed him material for The Tipping Point are as well. When zero tolerance meets deadly force, the result is unnecessary tragedy.

    It is a complicated mess to sort out even without the Barney Fifes inserting themselves into the interactions.

    • a great comment, tarheeldem, even if i can’t remember the specific incidents by location. there are just too, too, many, and it has to stop. compared to my time and your time in schools, most new ones are essential prisons or fortresses in design. gun turret windows, if any, indicating ‘no daydreaming allowed!’, which is so harsh for so many students, and further disrespects both critical and creative thinking, as do Common Core and ‘teaching to the test’, arne’s ‘race to the bottom’ education for far too many. how.bloody.boring.and soul/mind-stealing.

      the stats in the parent newsletter from the concerned black parents do at least tell some of the story, as do the lawsuits past and pending for Officer Thug.

      i love this; well done x 9, and i hope i can remember it later: “There’s no doubt now that #alllivesmatter is just another way of saying #shutthefuckup.” now that would make a good t-shirt. ;-)

      sorry all, but the time got away with me, and even with the extra hour, i somehow blew the hell outta my chore schedule. more as i can.

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