Archive for October, 2007

Candlelight Vigil for Garcia “BG” Beaugris

Monday, October 29th, 2007

Miami CopWatch and the Haitian American Grassroots Coalition invites you to a candlelight vigil to commemorate the life of Garcia BG Beaugris and demand justice for him and his family. BG was brutally shot and killed by Miami-Dade police on Friday just a few feet from his North Miami home. BG’s death will likely be remembered as one of the most brutal police killings in recent memory. The Vigil is set for Tuesday, October 29, 2007 at 5:30pm on the corner of 128th St. and NE 7th Ave., just off of West Dixie Highway.

According to multiple eye witnesses, BG was shot once in the chest and then twice again as he lay wounded on the ground, at virtually point blank range, while he was talking to friends just 100 feet from his home.

Miami-Dade jumpout police rolled up on several young black males talking to one another next to BG’s home. After searching the teens and finding nothing, Miami-Dade cop Christopher Villano verbally harassed and then physically attacked BG, ultimately shooting him dead.

The community is gathering to commemorate the life of BG Beaugris and to demand justice for him and his family. We demand the immediate arrest of Christopher Villano, with the appropriate charges of murder, and the end to the jumpout, police programs in low income black communities.

BG’s death will be remembered as one of the most notorious police shootings in Miami-Dade County. Join the fight to stop police brutality and win justice for BG Beaugris.

What: Candlelight Vigil for BG Beaugris

When: Tuesday, October 30, 2007 at 5:30pm

Where: 128th St. and NE 7th Ave. (just off of West Dixie Highway), North Miami, FL

Why: an unarmed BG Beaugris was shot dead by Miami-Dade police

forward,

Max Rameau
CopWatch
a project of the Center for Pan-African Development

Corrections officers

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

In Florida, a white prison gang brutally beat a Black 14-year-old named Martin Lee Anderson to death last year. Anderson had been sentenced to a juvenile boot camp prison in rural Florida as punishment for taking his grandmother’s car for a joyride and then violating the terms of his probation. Within hours of his arrival, gang members surrounded him, held him down, punched him, kicked him, and, while restraining him, held hands over his mouth for up to five minutes at a stretch. They went on beating him for half an hour. They kept on beating him even as he lay limp and unable to move. The attack was captured on tape in a surveillance video, and the autopsy report concluded that Anderson died of suffocation. But just a couple weeks ago, in spite of the video, in spite of the report, the thugs who murdered Martin Lee Anderson were acquitted by an all-white jury in Panama City, Florida. Why? Because when they battered Martin Lee Anderson to death, the gang colors they were wearing looked like this:

Here is a photo of five uniformed prison guards holding down a young black man.

An uneasy sense of dèjá vu swept over Florida last week after an all-white jury acquitted seven juvenile boot camp guards and a nurse charged with aggravated manslaughter in the death of a black teen last year.

The shocking verdict came down despite a half hour of videotape that showed the guards hitting and kicking the 14-year-old, Martin Lee Anderson, and holding their hands over his mouth for as long as five minutes at a time, while the nurse stood by and watched. The jury seemed persuaded by the first and widely discredited autopsy report that blamed the boy’s death on a sickle-cell condition, even though a second autopsy ordered by the state had ruled Anderson died from suffocation (the Justice Department has since announced it will investigate whether federal civil rights violations charges should be brought in the case). It’s wrong! Anderson’s mother, Gina Jones, shouted as she stormed out of the Panama City courtroom after the verdict was read.

Tim Padgett, TIME 2007-10-17: What’s Wrong With Florida’s Prisons?

(Story thanks to Alas, A Blog 2007-10-25 and The Bias Committee 2007-10-18.)

There’s more. Because there is always fucking more. For example, there are the repeated efforts by state and local officials to cover up the murder. Or there are the other cases.

The Anderson decision was reminiscent of another bewildering verdict five years ago, when three Florida state prison guards charged with stomping 36-year-old inmate Frank Valdes to death in his cell in 1999 were acquitted — even though the guards’ boot prints were found all over his back.

… The state is facing lawsuits alleging that its prisons subject too many inmates, including the mentally ill, to a prisoner “warehousing” culture of unlawfully extreme isolation and deprivation, usually with little or no rehabilitation efforts to prevent recidivism. Other suits decry what one calls excessive as well as malicious and sadistic use of pepper spray and other chemicals to keep mentally ill prisoners under control. In many cases the sprays have burned off inmates’ skin, according to the suit. Florida prisons still need to end this kind of outrageous conduct, says Randall Berg, executive director of the Florida Justice Institute in Miami, which is participating in a suit filed against the state’s current Corrections head, James McDonough, along with other department officials.

… In June of 2003, Omar Paisley, 17, an inmate at a juvenile detention center in Miami that was filled 135% beyond capacity, died when nurses ignored his pleas for help after his appendix burst. The nurses were later charged with manslaughter and third-degree murder, to which they have pleaded not guilty, and their trials are pending. Prosecutors at the trial of Valdes — who was awaiting execution for murdering a Palm Beach County corrections officer in 1987 — contended that one of the reasons he was beaten was the letters he’d begun writing to the media about abuses at Florida State Prison under its then warden, James Crosby. That made it all the more surprising when Bush appointed Crosby secretary of the state’s Corrections Department in 2003. Then last year Crosby was convicted after a sweeping federal probe of corruption inside the state’s prisons — and he’s now serving eight years in prison himself.

Whenever these kind of atrocities happen, mainstream media sources routinely decry and marginalize them in the same breath, by describing the sadism and the violence as abuses within the prison system, rot within the corrections culture, etc. This admits the problem while not really taking it seriously. In fact, intimidation and violence are the currency of control in prisons as we know them, and these practices bear no meaningful relationship whatsoever to any defense against imminent threats: convicts are imprisoned and coerced whether or not their crimes were violent, whether or not their crimes were even particularly serious, and whether or not there is any realistic chance that they will pose an ongoing threat to anybody in the future, because the hangman State exercises its power in the name of after-the-fact deterrence of unrelated parties, in the name of rehabilitation, and sometimes in the name of punishment and vengeance. This is not a matter of some fundamentally humane institution being perverted, under the influence of corrupt individuals or a corrupt internal culture, into an abuse of power. The thing itself is the abuse.

Related:

Quote of the Day

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

balko_whitepaper_200263.jpgThis one comes from my favorite vulgar libertarian, Radley Balko. Despite some of his corporate apologism he is doing some absolutely awesome work on police militarism. Today he has a penetrating comment on police justifications for SWAT raids:

This sort of case also emphasizes the inherent contradiction in the way police justify these raids. You’ll notice in the article that the police say they conducted the no-knock, middle-of-the-night raid to catch the suspect and his family off-guard. They then turn around and say the girl who fired the gun should have known they were police officers. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say nighttime SWAT raids are necessary to catch people unaware while they’re sleeping, then say they “should have known” that the men invading their homes were police.

SWAT Stuff

Thursday, October 25th, 2007
  • Botched raid victims William and Sharon McCulley, whose case I also mentioned in Overkill, were awarded $325,000 this week after a botched drug raid last year hit them and their grandchildren.

    That’s when, without a warrant authorizing entrance into the home of William and Sharon McCulley, but rather with an “anticipatory search warrant” that authorized them to search any property where the marijuana was transported, police entered their home.Though the Toyota truck they had been following and the transported box wasn’t at the McCulley’s home, police then threw Sharon McCulley on the ground next to her grandchild and handcuffed her, pressing a gun so hard into her head it left a circular mark, according to the complaint.

    Her husband, William McCulley, who has a severe nerve disorder and has a walker and leg brace, was also ordered to lie on the ground, but was unable to do so quickly because of his disability. Thrown to the ground by an officer, William McCulley’s implanted electronic shocking device to alleviate pain malfunctioned causing him to convulse, court documents state.

  • Mountain City, Tennessee (population 2,402), which has had one murder and two rapes in five years, will soon have its own SWAT team.
  • Here’s a Dallas SWAT raid on a suspected meth dealer that resulted in an officer getting shot. He’s now in critical condition. The shooter isn’t the suspect, but rather a 19-year-old girl who is either a relative of the suspect’s girlfriend, or the suspect’s actual girlfriend (reports I’ve read differ). It’s a big mess. The girl says she had no idea the home invaders were police. Of course, this again is one of the problems with these types of raids. Even if you’ve got the right guy, and have every reason to think the guy is dangerous, there may be other people in the home. In this case, there were four, including an infant. Police will say SWAT tactics make everyone in the home safer, because it allows police to storm the police and incapacitate everyone while they’re unaware. Obviously that didn’t happen, here.One other thing. This sort of case also emphasizes the inherent contradiction in the way police justify these raids. You’ll notice in the article that the police say they conducted the no-knock, middle-of-the-night raid to catch the suspect and his family off-guard. They then turn around and say the woman who fired the gun should have known they were police officers (she’s in jail on attempted capital murder charges). You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say nighttime SWAT raids are necessary to catch people unaware while they’re sleeping, then say they “should have known” that the men invading their homes were police.
  • Gangsters in Blue

    Saturday, October 13th, 2007

    A violent gang has recently been taken down in inner-city Chicago. Specifically, the city police recently decided to disband the Special Operations Section, a roaming squadron of over 100 cops which was created to fight inner-city gang crime and drug dealing. Problem is that the narcs themselves ended up running the most tightly organized, heavily armed, corrupt, and powerful racket in the neighborhood.

    After weeks of worsening revelations about the Chicago Police Department’s elite Special Operations Section, a beleaguered interim superintendent finally pulled the plug Tuesday, disbanding the scandal-plagued unit and sending most of its officers back to more strictly supervised assignments.

    The recent incidents of police misconduct, which include charges that SOS officers robbed and kidnapped people, and that one accused officer plotted to murder another, have been disheartening and demoralizing, especially for officers who serve honorably every day, interim Supt. Dana Starks said Tuesday at a news conference called to announce the abrupt disbanding of SOS.

    … Once touted as one of the department’s most nimble and aggressive weapons for fighting street gangs, SOS has produced one black eye after another for the city and Daley’s administration over the last year, and especially in the last several weeks.

    The units at the heart of the scandal were involved in street policing, rooting out gang and drug crimes in the roughest parts of Chicago.

    … In August the Tribune revealed that the U.S. attorney’s office had joined the ongoing state probe that already had led to charges of robbery and kidnapping against seven officers in the unit.

    Just weeks later, the FBI raided the home of Officer Jerome Finnigan, the alleged leader of the accused cops who was free on bail, and charged him with plotting to murder a former SOS officer who had begun aiding investigators.

    Two days after the charges were announced, the Tribune published a video of SOS officers—including Finnigan— raiding a Southwest Side bar in 2004 and searching its patrons. The video contradicted the arrest reports and raised constitutional issues about the legality of the raid, in which arrest reports allegedly were falsified and victims said police robbed their homes while they were in custody.

    At the end of last week, the department stripped three more officers of their police powers over the incident, and others were under investigation.

    In joining the probe, federal investigators have focused not on the original alleged crimes, but on what commanders in SOS, and higher up in the department, may have known about the rogue activities. The Office of Professional Standards and the Internal Affairs Division had fielded numerous complaints about Finnigan and the other officers over the years but they were still on the street before prosecutors concluded their own investigation and brought charges.

    … The SOS scandal has brought a growing chorus of questions about the quality of police oversight in the city. The scandal was part of the impetus behind Daley reorganizing the Office of Professional Standards during the summer. And aldermen are fighting the city over documents showing which officers have the most excessive force complaints, a list that is top-heavy with SOS officers.

    David Heinzmann and Emma Graves Fitzsimmons, Chicago Tribune 2007-10-09: Cops disband elite unit

    But wait, there’s more.

    This isn’t the first time that an elite anti-gang unit in the Chicago police force turned out to be engaged in organized crime as much as the gangs it was supposedly combating. The same damn thing happened only seven years ago:

    It is not the first time in recent history that a corruption scandal has led to the disbanding of a special unit. In 2000 the Gang Crimes Section was disbanded after federal authorities charged Officer Joseph Miedzianowski with using gang members to run his own drug distribution ring. The FBI called Miedzianowski, now serving life in prison, the most corrupt cop in Chicago history.

    When Gang Crimes was disbanded many of the officers in the unit, including Finnigan, were assigned to SOS.

    David Heinzmann and Emma Graves Fitzsimmons, Chicago Tribune 2007-10-09: Cops disband elite unit

    So what do you suppose they are going to do now that SOS has been busted up?

    Well, this is the government that we are talking about, and these are cops. Nobody in government ever gets fired, and nobody on the police force ever even gets blamed, unless and until they get indicted. So what’s going to happen is that are going to do the same goddamned thing that they did in 2000 and transfer the thugs from SOS over to yet another elite unit that does the same goddamned thing:

    Some of the more than 100 SOS officers to be reassigned will join the Targeted Response Unit, which does similar work hunting guns and drugs in gang-infested areas. …

    But SOS also included other specialized teams, including the SWAT team, marine, K-9, animal abuse and critical response units. Mounted patrol, a helicopter unit and officers trained to protect visiting dignitaries also were part of SOS. Those units are being reorganized into the newly named Special Functions Group, Starks said.

    David Heinzmann and Emma Graves Fitzsimmons, Chicago Tribune 2007-10-09: Cops disband elite unit

    Somehow I expect that in about seven years or so the city government will once again be shocked! shocked! to learn that corruption and violence have pervaded the Targeted Response Unit or the Special Functions Group, which will be disbanded forthwith in favor of yet another identical unit under a different name.

    Oh, but there’s more still!

    A lot of the other former SOS cops are going back onto street patrols. But guess where an undisclosed number of them are getting transferred:

    Although he declined to give numbers, Starks also said he was moving some officers into the Internal Affairs Division to beef the department’s ability to investigate its own officers.

    David Heinzmann and Emma Graves Fitzsimmons, Chicago Tribune 2007-10-09: Cops disband elite unit

    I guess it takes a thief….

    Meanwhile, the cops’ press flack, Monique Bond, is out to handle the PR problem. Look! It’s Yet Another Isolated Incident!

    Officials also were trying to control the damage done to the department’s reputation.

    Not everyone in SOS is a bad officer. You can’t paint this with a broad stroke, she said.

    David Heinzmann and Emma Graves Fitzsimmons, Chicago Tribune 2007-10-09: Cops disband elite unit

    You could say exactly the same thing about the Bloods or the Crips. But so the fuck what?

    (Story thanks to Lindsay Beyerstein at Majikthise 2007-10-10.)

    Law and Orders #2: Florida cop was “within bounds” when he punched and pepper-sprayed a 15-year-old girl for breaking curfew

    Thursday, October 11th, 2007

    (Via Women of Color Blog 2007-10-07 and Anthony Gregory @ LewRockwell.com Blog 2007-10-10.)

    Cops in America are heavily armed and trained to be bullies, and they routinely hurt people who are not posing any serious threat to anyone, in order to make sure that they stay in control of the situation. They have no trouble electrifying small children, alleged salad-bar thieves, pregnant women possibly guilty of a minor traffic violation, or students who may have been guilty of using the computer lab without proper papers—while they are already lying helpless on the ground. They are willing to pepper spray lawyers for asking inconvenient questions and to beat up 15 year old girls for daring to give them lip over whether to clean up spilled cake. They routinely use intimidation, threats, and violence whenever they get tired enough of being talked back to and if their bellowed orders are no longer sufficient to end an argument—even without any plausible reason whatsoever for fearing any physical threat to themselves or others. When they are caught in the act police administrators will wring their hands, make up some lies to try to excuse the assault, promise an investigation, find that Official Procedures were followed, and then do nothing at all; meanwhile a chorus of sado-fascists can be counted on to cheer the pigs and smear the victim in print media, talk shows, and the Internet. Both administrators and freelance sycophants freely employ the most tortured sorts of necessity excuses, in what seems to be a deliberate effort to obliterate any notion of restraints on the use of force in securing police objectives.

    In Fort Pierce, Florida, a white male cop named Dan Gilroy recently stopped a 15 year old black girl named Shelwanda Riley, and then placed her under arrest, for walking outside at 1:50 in the morning. (City ordinances forbid anyone under 18 from being on city streets without an adult minder between 11:00pm and 6:00am.) Here is the police video of Gilroy twisting her arm, telling her that he is going to hurt her to make her comply, wrenching her arm behind her back, punching her in the face, and then pepper-spraying her right after that, just for good measure.

    In the video, Riley starts crying and says she doesn’t want to go to jail. The officer repeatedly shouts at her not to resist while he tries to force her arms behind her back. When he threatens to use force and then wrenches the arm he’s holding behind her back, she bites him. He immediately punches her in the face, then, after waiting a second, pepper-sprays her in the face. He then finishes handcuffing her and leads her away as she cries that she can’t breathe.

    Note that after he shoved her into the car, this grown man later proceeded to charge the 15 year old girl that he forced down, beat up, and pepper-sprayed, with felony battery. The Authorities at the police department are Investigating, but Gilroy is still on active duty, and the local police chief, Sean Baldwin, says that Initial review of the incident concluded that the police officer acted legally and within bounds.

    For the time being, I want to set aside the obvious, stupid tyranny of the law that Dan Gilroy was so diligently trying to enforce. City governments have no business at all keeping tabs on where or when teenagers happen to be out, and cops have no business enforcing laws that city governments have no business making. But even if they did, this kind of thuggery from the police would still be inexcusable.

    The sado-fascist police enablers will, no doubt, mutter something about The Law and about keeping public order. They will no doubt point out the fact that the girl was resisting arrest by not submitting to the cop’s bellowed orders to let him handcuff her. They will no doubt point out the fact that, after he told her he was going to hurt her and then wrenched her arm behind her back, she bit at his wrist. They will no doubt claim that a grown man punching a 15-year-old girl in the face and then pepper-spraying her after he had punched her, in spite of the fact that she had done nothing else at that point to indicate that she posed any further threat, was necessary for the officer to successfully complete the arrest. But suppose that this were all true. Then so what?

    Even supposing that this cop had any kind of business arresting Shelwanda Riley, so what if he could not complete the arrest without doing these things? So what if he would otherwise have had to stand around waiting until she was willing to submit to arrest, or if he would otherwise have had to give up and let her get away when it became clear that beating her up was the only way to get her cuffed, or if he would have had to let go and back off in order to avoid getting hit by her or bit by her or whatever the hell it is he was so worked up about? So what if she even—perish the thought!—happened to get away from him?

    Even if you have a right to do something, that does not mean that you have the right to do it by any means necessary; sometimes there’s no way that you can get it done without using a levels of force that are disproportionate to the case, and in that case you simply have to give up on it; even if you were in the right, using force beyond what’s proportional to the situation turns you into a criminal and turns your enforcement into nothing more than an assault. If the cops cruising around our city streets think that the violence Dan Gilroy used here is worthwhile and within bounds of the proportional use of force — beating up teenaged girls and hurting them with pepper-spray just to make sure they don’t get away with the dreadful crime of wandering around outside too late at night, then that may tell you all that you need to know about the institutional culture of policing in America today.

    Public schooling

    Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

    One of the worst things about so-called public education, i.e. government-controlled schooling, is that students are forced into an institution that they consistently find unpleasant and boring, whether or not the individual student thinks that it’s worth the trouble. That fact, combined with the fact that the victims are all young and many of them are poor or black or otherwise marked as at-risk youth in need of special surveillance and control, naturally and systematically corrupts the way that the school relates to its students. It leads administrators and political decision-makers to focus on restraining the unruly behavior of the coerced students, by making authority, control, security, and discipline top priorities. In practice this means monitoring, intimidation, and coercion. These facts in turn result in attitudes and institutional practices throughout State schools that are often hard to distinguish from those prevailing in a prison camp.

    Here are three stories that have come out, just over the course of the past week, about the practices of administrators and uniformed thugs in American public schools. In particular, they are about three separate cases in which one or the other set out to maintain control over their school by physically brutalizing or sexually humiliating young women.

    The first case, from Arizona, happened four years ago in Airzona. It’s in the news today because the famously liberal Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of appeals recently ruled that Safford Middle School officials were within the bounds of their legitimate authority when they forced a strip-search on a 13 year old girl — because a couple of student snitches claimed that she had some unauthorized ibuprofen on her, and the Authorities had to know for sure:

    Safford Middle School officials did not violate the civil rights of a 13-year-old Safford girl when they forced her to disrobe and expose her breasts and pubic area four years ago while looking for a drug, according to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.

    The justices voted 2-1 in favor of the Safford School District on Sept. 21. The decision upheld a federal district court’s summary judgement that Safford Middle School Vice Principal Kerry Wilson, school nurse Peggy Schwallier and administrative assistant Helen Romero did not violate the girl’s Fourth Amendment rights on Oct. 8, 2003, when they subjected her to a strip search in an effort to find Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug sold over the counter and in prescription strengths.

    The girl’s mother filed a federal law suit against the district and Middle School officials because they forced her daughter to strip down to her underwear then move her bra and panties in such a way that her breasts and pubic area were exposed. The mother also asserts that she was not notified of the impending search.

    In the opinion written by Judge Richard Clifton, Based on the information available to them, defendants (Safford School District, Wilson, Schwallier and Romero) had reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search of (the girl’s) person would turn up evidence that (the girl) had violated or was violating either the law or the rules of the school.

    Clifton wrote that Wilson and the others had reasonable grounds for believing the girl had Ibuprofen based on conversations with two other students.

    The other students said the girl possessed Ibuprofen and had distributed the drug to others, according to the court report.

    Diane Saunders, Eastern Arizona Courier (2007-09-26): Court rules school officials acted properly in strip search

    The second case is from New York, where — in order to enforce a blanket no-bags policy putatively adopted for the students own health and safety — a member of the school goon squad decided that it was O.K. for him, an adult male ex-cop, to pull 14 year old girls carrying purses out of class and interrogate them about their menstrual cycles:

    Grahamsville — Several television news crews from New York City are camped outside the Tri-Valley Central School following the story in today’s Times Herald-Record about what question a school security guard asked a 14-year-old female student.

    The girl was called out of class by a security guard during a school sweep last week to make sure no kids had backpacks or other banned bags.

    Samantha Martin had a small purse with her that day.

    That’s why the security guard, ex-Monticello cop Mike Bunce, asked her The Question.

    She says he told her she couldn’t have a purse unless she had her period. Then he asked, Do you have your period?

    Samantha was mortified.

    She says she thought, Oh, my God. Get away from me. But instead of answering, she just walked back into class.

    At home, she cried, and told her mother what happened.

    It appears that at least a few other girls were also asked the same question.

    On Sept. 21, Martin and other girls were called to the office of Principal Robert Worden. Lisa Raymond, the assistant superintendent for business, was also there, Martin said.

    They just asked me what he (Bunce) said. I told them, and they said thanks for coming, she said.

    The small Sullivan County school has been in an uproar for the last week. Girls have worn tampons on their clothes in protest, and purses made out of tampon boxes. Some boys wore maxi-pads stuck to their shirts in support.

    After hearing that someone might have been suspended for the protest, freshman Hannah Lindquist, 14, went to talk to Worden. She wore her protest necklace, an OB tampon box on a piece of yarn. She said Worden confiscated it, talked to her about the code of conduct and the backpack rule — and told her she was now part of the problem.

    Tri-Valley Superintendent Nancy George, who has refused to meet with any reporters today, yestedar said that when Worden, Bunce and another staffer did the bag check, they were telling students to put the bags in their lockers. The administration is investigating whether they said anything more to some girls.

    I have had some parents talk to me personally, and they gave me the names of some students who were asked, she said. We’re certainly not going to make light of this. It’s a very sensitive issue, but it needs to be handled. Parents with more information should call her directly, she added.

    Raymond and Worden failed to return calls yesterday for comment. Bunce was not working yesterday, and his home phone number is unlisted.

    Bunce was forced to retire from the Monticello Police Department in 2002 after he and the former chief were caught running their process-serving business on village time.

    School board President Lori Mickelson declined comment.

    The school banned backpacks in the halls this year for two reasons, George said: Student health, because heavy bags could hurt the kids’ backs or people could trip on them; and for security concerns, felt nationwide, about concealed weapons.

    Heather Yakin, Times Herald-Record (2007-09-28): The Question’ causes furor at local high school

    Clearly the Authorities concerns about small purses and their contribution teenagers’ back problems outweigh minor considerations like the dignity and sexual privacy of 14 year old girls.

    The third case comes from Palmdale, California, near Los Angeles, where a member of the school goon squad slammed Pleajhai Mervin, a young black woman at Knight High School, down on a table, twisted her arm behind her back, and broke her wrist — after she refused to follow his bellowed orders to make a fourth try at cleaning up the last bits of a slice of cake that she had accidentally spilled on the lunchroom floor. According to Mervin, the uniformed thug yelled hold still nappy head at her during the course of the attack. The fifteen-year-old young woman was then ticketed for littering, expelled from school, and arrested for battery against the beefy uniformed security thug who was breaking her wrist while other security goons hovered around. Two other black students — a 14 year old boy and his 16 year old sister — were tackled, held down, shoved around, handcuffed, and arrested for daring to film what was going on using their cell phone cameras.

    School security guards in Palmdale, CA have been caught on camera assaulting a 16-year-old girl and breaking her arm after she spilled some cake during lunch and left some crumbs on the floor after cleaning it up.

    … The girl, Pleajhai Mervin, told Fox News LA that she was bumped while queuing for lunch and dropped the cake. After being ordered to clean it up and then re-clean the spot three times, she attempted to leave the area out of embarrassment but was jumped on by security who forced her onto a table, breaking her wrist in the process.

    Steve Watson, InfoWars (2007-09-28): School Guards Break Child’s Arm And Arrest Her For Dropping Cake

    Mervin says a security guard slammed her against a table at a lunchroom at the high school and twisted her arms behind her back so violently, he broke her wrist. Her wrist is in a cast.

    He put my arm behind my back and he started raising it until it hurt, so I told him, Stop, it hurts. He had slammed me on the table and told me to hold still. He called me a nappy-head, and that’s when I just started crying, said Mervin.

    Mervin claims she was roughed up simply because she failed to pick up every crumb of a birthday cake she accidentally dropped on the floor of the lunchroom during a lunch-hour birthday celebration for a friend. She says she thought she cleaned up the mess, but the security guard thought otherwise.

    He said, You have to come pick the rest of this cake up. So I said, I picked it up. He gets on his walkie-talkie, he got a call, so I just started walking to class, and that’s when he grabbed me, said Mervin.

    Mervin says when the security guard realized he was being videotaped, he tackled the student shooting the video. She says another student captured photographs of that incident. She says the whole incident was unnecessary.

    Leo Stallworth, KABC Los Angeles (2007-09-26): High School Security Guards Accused of Excessive Force One security guard twisted the arm of 16-year-old Pleajhai Mervin behind her back and slammed her against a lunch table, fracturing her wrist, parents said.

    I want justice, said Mervin’s mother, Latrisha Majors, who also was arrested. I want justice for my daughter. I want the guards to be held accountable for their actions.

    Majors and her daughter were arrested in the Sept. 18 lunchtime incident, along with Joshua Lockett, 14, who videotaped the fight, and his sister, Kenngela Lockett, 16, who also suffered a fractured wrist.

    Both Mervin and Kenngela Lockett attended the protest with their arms in slings.

    Joshua Lockett, who was on probation for robbery, remained in juvenile custody on suspicion of violating his probation, sheriff’s deputies said.

    We come to get an education, not to be hurt by security guards, said Kenngela, who said she tried to pull guards off her brother and was hurt while being handcuffed.

    One guard, whose name has not been publicly released, has been placed on leave with pay pending an investigation by the Antelope Valley Union High School District. Attempts to reach the guard were not successful.

    Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies said the guard told them he felt threatened by Mervin.

    There was resistance by her, Sgt. Darrel Brown said. He went to control her.

    Karen Maeshiro, LA Daily News (2007-09-29): Rally protests security guard acts.

    Mainstream media sources such as the Los Angeles Times, KABC in Los Angeles, KSN (a local NBC affiliate), and the LA Daily News have repeatedly described what happened as a tussle … between a security guard and three students, as a scuffle with security guards, a melee with security guards, mayhem, etc. This apparently is what passes for accurate description of a professional uniformed security goon battering two high school girls and a fourteen-year-old boy, while he’s backed up by another security goon hovering around the area and clearly outweighs all of his victims. You can watch part of Joshua Lockett’s video of the scuffle at MyFox Los Angeles (2007-09-26) and MyFox Los Angeles (2007-09-28).

    Oh No A WoC PhD (2007-09-30) has a YouTube montage of more photos and videos from this so-called melee, and also the contact information for school and city officials.

    (Stories thanks to feministing 2007-10-01, Women of Color Blog 2007-09-30, Oh No a WoC PhD 2007-09-30, The Superfluous Man 2007-09-28, Radley Balko 2007-09-28, feministing 2007-09-28, and Majikthise 2007-09-28.)

    State schooling, institutional racism, blanket zero-tolerance policies, and increasing police and security presence in schools have ensured that many if not most American schools are no longer primarily places of learning. They are guarded institutions whose primary focus is on command and control.

    Further reading: