On Monday, a South Carolina police officer, Ben Fields, brutally dragged a 16 year-old Spring Valley High School student from her chair. His reasoning? Well, apparently the girl refused to leave the classroom. The victim, of course, was black. In the video that has gone viral, you can see the police officer grab the girl. He flips her and the desk over, and then pulls her across the classroom.
Ben Fields has been fired. However, there is controversy surrounding that decision. Some of the students staged a protest, wearing shirts that say “Free Fields”. Most students agree that he made a mistake, but they are not sure that Fields deserved to be fired for it. Some of the students also think that Fields’ aggressive conduct wasn’t racially-driven.
While the assault against the girl is disturbing, for me, it is not the most disturbing part. The worst part of the video is the silence—the silence from the other students, and the silence from the teacher. You can tell from the body language of the other people in the classroom that they feel powerless. They witness what is happening to their classmate, to their friend, and they know that they have to let it go on. If one of them stood up to the officer, what would happen? If a student tried to help, that student might very well end up injured, arrested, or maybe even dead.
The fact that black people have been reduced to a state of uselessness is disheartening. From a young age, black children have to witness violence from figures that are supposed to protect them. The girl who was assaulted didn’t do anything wrong. She was sitting peacefully in her chair. She did not have a weapon or drugs. She did not hurt anyone. There was no reason for her to be dragged across the classroom. But in this situation (just like many others), being black was reason enough.
Maya Valderrama, Staff Writer