What appears to be yet another case of police brutality is causing unrest among members of a California community.
After video footage of a teenager being slammed to the ground by a police officer while on campus went viral online, students at Helix Charter High School near San Diego decided to protest the police. But the video didn’t spark outrage only among students. According to The International Business Times, parents and other members of the local community were also angered at the authorities.
The video depicts a school official trying to get an unidentified 17-year-old off the school campus. As she refused to leave, the officer handcuffed her and escorted her to the school’s office, but not before tossing the student over his shoulder and then onto to the ground.
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While the video doesn’t show more than 30 seconds, witnesses say the girl was tossed several other times.
In a statement to The Los Angeles Times, La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez said that the officer’s behavior was justified as the girl had become “non-compliant on two separate occasions” as she tried to free herself.
“To prevent the student from escaping, the officer forced the student to the ground," he added.
But despite the explanation, Aeiramique Blake, a community member who spoke to the press on behalf of the child’s parents, said police are not telling the whole story.
"No matter what was done or not done, that was not the appropriate way to handle a young lady,” Blake said. “The community is completely outraged."
According to Blake, the victim had allegedly been serving an in-school suspension for tardiness on Friday. But as she told her instructor she wasn’t feeling well, the teacher failed to act on her complaints, accusing her of being under the influence of drugs.
After she was searched and nothing except a bottle of pepper spray was found, the teacher told her to leave since she was carrying a “weapon.” That’s when security was called in to intervene.
The La Mesa police are investigating this incident, but parents aren’t waiting for their report to act as they have joined others in a protest against the school.
They demand that the officer involved in the incident be banned from patrolling the schools.
#NOW: Some students at Helix High now returning to class following protesting the arrest of a fellow 17yo suspended student who was slammed to the ground by a La Mesa police officer. The video surfaced online over the weekend. The department is now reviewing. pic.twitter.com/TXSq8xQjtL— Aric Richards (@AricFOX5) January 22, 2018
Sophomore Mahamed Ezana also urged the community to stand up to injustice in the community.
“She did not pose a threat to any single person, and if we don't stand up and say that this is not okay then no one else is going to do this for us,” Ezana said. "We're saying to La Mesa P.D. that this kind of violence is unacceptable. They must implement deescalation policies and have restorative justice in our schools and across our city.”
While students were urged to go back to class after the protest, it’s great to see students and parents getting together to protest school and law enforcement for enabling abuse.
Officers are supposed to lead by example. If they are the first ones to lose their temper and act aggressively every time a teenager acts up, then they will lose the little support they have among locals.
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters/Rebecca Cook