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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Editorial: As far as ethics and morals go, we need to reflect

Following national outcry, the FBI and the Department of Justice announced Tuesday that they have opened up an investigation into the violent arrest of a black high-school student by a white sheriff’s deputy in Columbia, South Carolina. Officer Ben Fields arrested the student after forcefully yanking her out of her desk by wrapping his arm around her neck. Having flipped the student and her desk, Fields then dragged her to the front of the classroom. This came after she refused to leave her seat and had already ignored requests from her teacher and other school administrators to do so. A second student, Niya Kenny, 18, was arrested soon after for taping the encounter. Her arrest was justified under the premise that she was “disturbing school.”

This announcement represents a remarkably quick turnaround for an incident that occurred only one day before. However, given the strong evidence against the offending officer in the form of several videos taken during the arrest, one would be hard pressed to deny any wrongdoing occurred.

Initially, we believed Fields’ brutality was solely another instance of K-12 students being needlessly criminalized. As we’ve discussed previously within this very space, American students as young as 6 have to worry about being arrested lest they “pass gas” or throw a temper tantrum.

Given our country’s proud history, in both our schools and our homes, of intimidating young men and women with force, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to conclude that Officer Fields felt dehumanization was the most appropriate response to nonviolent obstinacy. On these “merits” alone, the scenario is nauseating.

But then something interesting happened: more details about Officer Fields emerged. As reported by the “New York Daily News,” Fields assaulted Army veteran Carlos Martin nearly 10 years ago following a noise complaint. Martin said Fields slammed him onto the pavement and proceeded to pepper-spray him after addressing the officer as “dude.”

After Fields told his partner to “get her black ass,” with ‘her’ referring to Martin’s then-wife, Tashiana Rogers, Martin threatened Fields with a lawsuit. Fields responded with the following: “I’m glad Johnny Cochran is dead.”

So, not only does Fields find brutalizing young women acceptable, but he’s a racist to boot. Even though our country has been ideologically torn on the subject of racially motivated police brutality, we can all agree, at the least, this kind of behavior has no place in our schools… right?

Wrong. Some have come to the defense of Fields’ actions Monday, with many referring to the student he arrested with adjectives like “unruly.” These same individuals seem to think the student in question had it coming. There has even been praise of Fields’ so-called remarkable restraint in NOT drawing his gun or Taser.

If it were considered prestigious or respectable to write paragraphs consisting of nothing but four-letter words and exhausted invocations of religious figures, this would probably be the editorial to do it in.

It is NOT OK to direct violence at someone — a high-school student, no less! — who poses no threat to your physical being. It is NOT acceptable to lessen and dehumanize people because they have a different skin color.

It’s 2015! Man walked on the moon nearly 50 years ago, we’ve been able to treat HIV and AIDS with affordable medicine and we can watch porn on devices we keep in our pockets. America, get your shit together.

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