These Three Videos All Prove One Horrifying Statistic

A 15-year-old Spring Valley High School student was flipped in her chair and dragged across the floor by a Richland County Sheriff's deputy on Monday. Video footage of the scene has troubled many, prompting the Justice Department and F.B.I. to investigate. Now, there are growing calls and petitions to get Deputy Ben Fields fired. He's been placed on leave without pay and administrators say that he will not be returning to work at the school district. But still, we're left with the inextricable fact that excessive force policing happens, and it happens to Black girls more often than we would like to believe.

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BREAKING: Disturbing new video of a police officer using force...

BREAKING: Disturbing new video of a police officer using force against a student in South Carolina.More details here: http://bit.ly/1GvwGtN

Posted by ATTN: on Monday, October 26, 2015

In school and out of school, women of color are disproportionately subject to punitive, zero-tolerance policies. So when a Black high school student takes out her cell phone in spite of school policy, as the Spring Valley High School senior reportedly did, she is more likely to face severe punishment than her white peers. (It is worth noting here that another student in the classroom, 18-year-old Niya Kenny, was also arrested and held on $10,000 bail for filming the incident).

Kenny described the situation, telling WLTX-TV that she was crying when she first saw what was happening. That's when she decided to film it.

"I know this girl don’t got nobody and I couldn’t believe this was happening," Kenny told the news station. "I had never seen nothing like that in my life, a man use that much force on a little girl. A big man, like 300 pounds of full muscle. I was like 'no way, no way.' You can't do nothing like that to a little girl. I'm talking about she's like 5'6"."

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Here are two additional cases to consider.

A police officer in McKinney, Texas, was forced to resign after video showed him throwing a 15-year-old Black girl on the ground and aiming his gun at two unarmed teens during a pool party.

A Seattle police officer came under fire after video emerged of him punching a 17-year-old Black girl in the head. He had stopped her and her friends for jaywalking.

A report from the African American Policy Forum highlighted this pattern of bias, and it concluded that the challenges that Black girls confront in the U.S. education system are both underreported and misunderstood.

"You're looking at women being viciously manhandled by men," Kimberle Crenshaw, the lead author of the AAPF report and a professor at Columbia Law School, told ATTN:. "Other people who might want to intervene being threatened—in the case of Texas with the gun, in the case [Monday] with arrest—and their victimization is just something that the loved ones around them have to witness without intervening."

"What feels like the particular racism of it is that it's just hard to imagine—case after case after case like this—of young white girls, or even middle aged or older white women, being manhandled in such a vicious way without there being an outcry. This is what happens to women who are black. Their blackness makes them vulnerable to a level of violence that is just difficult to imagine being perpetrated against a white women. And that's what's racial as well as gendered about this," Crenshaw added. 

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There are plenty of examples of Black girls being more severely punished for school policy violations than white students. On average, Black girls are six times more likely to be suspended than white girls, according to the AAPF report. There was a case in 2014 where a 12-year-old Georgia girl was expelled and faced criminal charges for writing "hi" on a locker room wall; the white girl who was also involved in the harmless offense faced significantly reduced charges. But those violent examples—of police using force against Black girls—are the ones that tend to garner the most media attention.


In these cases, the problem of overpolicing with respect to girls of color is more obvious, especially when there are videos to support claims of racial bias. That's what happened at Spring Valley High School yesterday; the aggressive response of Fields, a "school resource officer," to a Black girl who was allegedly begin "verbally disruptive" sheds light on the issue, calling attention to the fact that the "school-to-prison pipeline" isn't limited to Black boys. Overpolicing and disproportionate punishment of Black girls also increases their chances of entering the criminal justice system later in life.

"We can no longer afford to leave young women and girls of color at the margins of our concerns with respect to the achievement gap, the dropout crisis, and the school-to-prison pipeline," the AAPF researchers concluded. "Instead, we must develop gender and race-conscious prisms that capture the vulnerabilities they experience today."