Black students’ lives matter!! Being a teenager is not a crime!

Lots of horrible news coming at me about school/campus violence today. On the one hand, increasing mass shootings make military-style defense sound sensible. Maybe. (I’m waiting for more details out of Oregon before I comment.)

On the other hand, Birmingham (AL) P.D. working as school “security” personnel have apparently been using pepper spray/tear gas as a response to non-threatening, non-violent (& normal) behavior by teenagers!! For years!!!

HOW?? Oh, wait, I think I can guess this one: “From 2006 to 2011, police in Birmingham public schools – whose students are predominantly African American – used chemical spray in 110 incidents in which about 300 students were sprayed. More than 1,200 others were exposed to the spray during those incidents.”

[The judge] wrote that he was “profoundly disturbed” by the testimony during the three-week trial that began last January and that the defendants in the case – police stationed in Birmingham schools – “displayed a cavalier attitude” toward the use of pepper spray.

This is another ripple effect of the expanding militarization of our police forces, whose mantra “to protect and serve” becomes more laughable/cringeworthy each day. The injustice levied on these children!! … an OUTRAGE.

During the trial earlier this year, several former students testified about being sprayed over minor infractions. When “K.B.” was a 10th-grader in a Birmingham high school, she was walking to class in tears after a boy made inappropriate sexual comments. After being told to “calm down” by a police officer, K.B. – who was five months pregnant at the time – was sprayed in the face and handcuffed.

“It felt like somebody cut my face up and poured hot sauce in,” she testified.

The judge highlighted the incident in his ruling.

“[W]hile all of the facts in this case are disturbing, the court is especially taken aback that a police officer charged with protecting the community’s children considered it appropriate and necessary to spray a girl with Freeze +P simply because she was crying about her mistreatment at the hands of one of her male peers,” he wrote.

The first five pages of this federal court’s decision are extremely readable and accessible to the lay person. The judge shows great humanity. I recommend reading for yourself.

Astonishing malfeasance.


About amywinns

Semi-snarky, semi-sincere, occasionally ranting, always paying attention. Feminist who can work a skirt and crack a joke. Grammar nerd who is also fun at parties. Mid-career writer/editor with 15 years’ experience in newspapers & magazines who now helps developers at a major media corporation communicate with the suits who write the checks. Pro-women, pro-family, pro-choice, pro-workingclass, pro-entrepreneur, pro-farmer. Like every other bourgeois Brooklynite, I choose local/organic/raw food — mostly vegetables — whenever possible/reasonable/affordable but I’m not a smug asshole about it. Hometown: Atlanta. Weird hobby: lindy hop. No pets, no kids, no thanks.
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