Saturday, February 25, 2012

What in the hell is wrong with these people?

Sorry, folks.  I'm running low on patience....

Mother, Advocates to Birmingham, Ala., Police: Stop Using Pepper Spray on Our Children.

.A mother whose daughters were hit with pepper spray by a police officer at their school in Birmingham, Ala., joined the SPLC and a coalition of advocacy groups today to present the city council and Mayor William Bell with a petition signed by more than 25,000 people urging them to stop allowing police officers to discipline students with chemical weapons.
The SPLC sued the police department in December 2010 after finding that almost 200 Birmingham students had been sprayed with chemical weapons during a five-year period – mostly for petty offenses that schools typically address with a trip to the principal’s office. The lawsuit, which is ongoing, detailed how pepper spray is used against children who are completely restrained and pose no threat to themselves or others in school.
LaTonya Stearnes, the mother of three Birmingham school children, recounted an incident at Huffman High School that occurred after a boy pushed one of her daughters. When the girl defended herself, a police officer grabbed her from behind and sprayed her in her face. When another daughter ran to help her sister, she was caught in the mist of chemicals.
“I will never forget my daughter’s red and swollen face,” Stearnes said. “I sent my girls to school thinking they would be safe and protected. I never thought they would be –pepper-sprayed. These are teenage girls, not criminals.”
The SPLC is unaware of any other school district in the nation where police officers use chemical weapons against students on such a frequent basis.
“Chemical weapons are intended to be a last resort for public protection, not a method for disciplining high school students engaging in typical adolescent misbehavior,” said Ebony Howard, lead attorney on the case for the SPLC. “Using pepper spray on schoolchildren only encourages drop-out and derails young lives. We sincerely hope the mayor and city council will join our fight to protect the city’s children.”
SPLC attorney Ebony Howard and parent LaTonya Stearnes display the petition urging the Birmingham City Council to stop allowing police officers to discipline students with chemical weapons.
The coalition, which includes, the Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Birmingham chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, want city officials to institute an improved selection process for officers stationed in schools and specialized training that will help them address school incidents safely and effectively.
Individuals exposed to pepper spray are at risk for serious health effects ranging from temporary loss of vision or blurred vision to blistering of the eyes and skin. They can also experience life-threatening effects such as inflammation and swelling of the throat that restrict the size of the airway and limit the amount of oxygen entering the lungs. This is especially concerning in a school district that is 96 percent African-American and is located in a community where children have a five times higher death rate due to asthma-related complications.

ok, see we in America have become far too polite and patient.  How about this:  Police; if you spray my child with pepper spray for no appropriate reason, I will break both of your legs.   Now, that would be considered an assault, right?  But, why is spraying a minor with pepper spray not?
  I've been hit with pepper spray.  Believe it or not, I was actually doing nothing wrong.  I was stopped at a red light and someone who was not appreciative of my driving pulled up next to me and sprayed me through my window.  I panicked, threw my glass bottle of coca cola (yes, it was that long ago) at the assaulting spray as I heard myself and my passengers screaming in pain and fear.  I was 16 - and the oldest in the car.  My foot came off the clutch but thankfully the car stalled as I hadn't shifted down yet.  I was blinded for a full 15 minutes and couldn't see to drive for another half hour after that.  My passengers, one of whom was my friend's younger brother only 12 years old, all experienced lesser degrees of it all, where I got hit right in the face. 
  When I got home and told my parents what had happened I got a big "yeah, right".  In hindsight, I wish I knew now what I knew then.  The man who sprayed me was caught via his license plate and given a misdemeanor fine.
  So, think spraying someone in the face with pepper spray is funny?  Try it.     Bah... I'm ranting.  sorry.


Sammy B said...

Hello Randy
Two, probably linked, thoughts occur to me - that a substantial proportion of police officers. in this country, too, assume that they're above the law (and, sadly, often seem to be proven to be correct in that assumption when cases come to court), and that if those officers are provided with weapons, of whatever kind, they are inclined to use them, often as a first rather than a last resort. It would be nice if the police realised that they exist to serve rather than to suppress their communities, but I'm not holding my breath in expectation of any such realisation.

Love & best wishes
Sammy B

Scottie said...

Hello Randy. To go along with what Sammy said, many police people have developed a huge ego, and think they are more of an authority than they really are. My sister married a police officer and I know that some of them really think they are "powerful People" who should get what they want, when they want it.

I am sorry you had to suffer being sprayed with pepper spray in your youth. People don't realize how serious it is. In one of the jobs I had I had to take training in pepper spray and how to defend my self and others from different types of attack. We each had to be sprayed once a year. What a mess. An instructor would spray us as it had to be done very limited and not full in the face, but just below the face. Even that was devastating. Mucus runs from your nose, your eyes, mouth, lungs and skin burn .

They taught us what to do, how to cope, and even still we had people freak out because their lungs were spasmodic and they couldn't breathe. You learn not to rub anything no matter how much you need to.

Now those kids, and older people who have been sprayed do not get that training. It can be fatal if medical attention is not provided. Also anyone who comes in contact with a sprayed person can be effected. So one with asthma can have a fatal attack.

What I am trying to say is the decision to use spray is one that needs careful thought and training. One should..should always try to deescalate a problem , not escalate it was what I was taught.

It seems to me that this school community officer jumped to a more aggressive posture than was necessary or proper for the situation.

Hope all is well for you, miss you and think of you often. Love the emails. Hugs

randy said...

Hi Sammy and Scottie;
We do have an odd system that those who are there to "protect and to serve" are often the ones demanding service. And yet, as individuals, I've often had very decent conversations and dealings with them. It seems given the opportunity, most people are just people... but given the power, letting it go to the head... a sure recipe for disaster.
I'm in a much mellower mood right now, but I would surely have had a conversation with that officer about the longevity of his career, etc., if he ever pulled that spray on my child.
I still recall that day I got sprayed, and it's over 25 years ago.

hugs all;

Anonymous said...

I do not understand.
What does the police have to do in school? Is the police present in every school?
I think that responsibility for law and order in the school the teachers are first and foremost.
But seemingly everywhere these days, the police power is shown, even during peaceful demonstrations.
Exemple: 2010, police in Stuttgart with water cannons and pepper spray against protesting pupils and elderly - several people were injured - Keyword S 21 -

randy said...

Hi Nikki;
There has been a very interesting and disappointing development in this country over the last 50 years. You see, it was just the mid '60's when Martin Luther King marched and was arrested in Birmingham, writing a famous letter to the local churches who considered his marches inflammatory and inciting violence. There, in Birmingham, men and women of many "races" were hurt, arrested, and penalized all in the effort to create a more free community.
Somehow, in these last 50 years, the youth have either grown complacent or angry, feeling the denial of freedom in past and even racism in current make any sort of acting out and violence acceptable. So, in some areas, and sadly it is the lower economic areas where folks really need the advantages education can give them, the schools can be a violent place and the teachers feel that their job is to teach, not to police. So, now, in some schools, we have police - in my area, there are four major school districts and some smaller ones. The major districts, two have a police presence - and are coincidentally the lower income areas. My aggravation is that the districts get caught up in ethnic issues, which are important I guess, yet forget that the true success will come not from a basketball game or a feel good about me black history curriculum, but with excellent math and reading and vocational programs. The sadness is that they are both failing in these areas, despite large influx of tax dollars.
Kids, for the most part, are rebellious little monkeys - white, black, yellow, brown - while at the same time really desire to be accepted and liked. Somehow, we need to get them to find thier individuality and acceptance in good ways. I really have no idea how that is done, and so while I am critical of the local districts that are failing the kids I have no idea how to change things. It's sad, really. All sorts of great potential is often wasted - and the best we can do is get the police involved earlier and earlier? No... there just has to be a better way, and if there is no other choice than to have a security presence, it needs to be a mature and building presence, not a pack of uniformed bullies.
To go further, I know that the role of the police are to maintain order and protect property rights, but they are there to serve the community not just the powers that be. I hope we will see a turn for the better before we see any worsening.
Be well, and thank you for the visit and comments.


Anonymous said...

Hallo Randy
The way you describe the situation - is there education (both mental as well as the personality) at all possible?

Do you know the "PISA study"?
In this ranking, the Northern European countries are first in the places.
They are investing a high proportion of their national budgets in school education.

In Finland, there are:
- Small classes
- 2 teachers in each class
- All children of an age group are in the same class - regardless of their intellectual abilities.

But as we also say here in Germany?
These are all left theories and not decisive for us!

randy said...

I wish America was more forward thinking. We simply have far too many people happy to mortgage the future for excesses today.