On March 25, 2015, police officers effectuated a violent seizure of a citizen in Kenner, Louisiana: [T]he police grabbed her by the ankles and dragged her away [from the tree]. . . . [She was] lying face down on the ground, handcuffed with her face pressed so closely to the ground that she was having difficulty breathing due to the grass and dirt that was so close to her nose and mouth. An officer was kneeling on top of her, pinning her down with a knee squarely in [her] back. Several other officers, as well as several school administrators, stood around the scene watching. [She] was crying and yelling[,] “Help, I’m hurting.” The handcuffed individual was a Black, ten-year-old child who has been diagnosed with autism. On the day of the incident, she “began acting up in class, running around the classroom, climbing on desks, and knocking down classroom chairs.” After she climbed out of the classroom window and up a tree on school property, school officials called the police. Instead of responding to the situation in a manner appropriate for a fourth grader with autism, officers responded with handcuffs and a knee in her back. In Mississippi, a twelve-year-old diagnosed with bipolar disorder “was handcuffed in front of several classmates and put in the back of a police car outside of [his middle school]” after “los[ing] his temper in an argument with another student, and hit[ing] several teachers when they tried to intervene.” Following the incident, the boy was briefly admitted to a mental health facility, then “charged with three counts of assault.” In Virginia, a Black eleven-year-old boy diagnosed with autism was charged with disorderly conduct and felony assault of a police officer for his acts of kicking over a trash can in school and trying to pull away when a school resource officer grabbed him. Unfortunately, the facts in these elementary school students’ cases are not rare. Over the past few decades, schools across the country have adopted extremely harsh discipline policies to control student misbehavior that may be caused by an underlying disability.
Schooling the Police: Race, Disability, and the Conduct of School Resource Officers,
Mich. J. Race & L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjrl/vol21/iss1/6