By KH Hamilton

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – It’s been over a year now since our global community witnessed Ms. Darnella Frazier’s video recording of former Officer Derrick Chavin’s knee on Mr. George Floyd’s neck in 2020. Humanity, as a whole, was enraged at the traumatic footage that tragically ended Mr. Floyd’s life, prompting calls to end police brutality nationwide.

Yet, right here in San Diego, a young 14-year-old Black female student at Valhalla High School experienced the violation of the use of physical restraint when a 5’11”, nearly 208 lb., 51-year-old former Sheriff Deputy placed his knee on her neck in an attempt to break up a fight between her and another Black female student. Reportedly, both girls reside in the same group home. 

After multiple recordings of the incident circulated around social media, locals in San Diego now have witnessed not only the fight between the two students but the Campus Security (CS) Supervisor on top of this young Black female student. The Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) has launched an investigation. 

However, nearly 20 days after the racially traumatic school incident, it is extremely troubling to learn that the investigator, Attorney Dan Quiller, recommends that the Campus supervisor remains on paid administrative leave until he receives additional training and be reassigned to a different school.

GUHSD’s Superintendent Kemper apologized to the student after publicly sharing the report. In the report, the victim is referenced as Student B, and the Campus Security is listed as Employee A.

The dehumanization (Goff, 2014) of this young Black student in what the report stated as being placed in a “hogtie” position with Employee A’s knee on her neck for 4 seconds while he simultaneously smooshed her face into the ground with his elbow while her legs were held by three other White male staff members was in violation of California Education Codes’ use of physical restraint.

Credit: Santi Vedri on Unsplash / Unsplash

Let’s be clear, the trauma experienced by the student calls for more than an apology from Superintendent Kemper and recommendations from an outside investigator for more training and a job transfer. 

Employee A must be released from his duties, along with the Principal who took 8 minutes to arrive at the fight scene and allowed two of her assistant principals to be absent on the same day. 

The three other employees who were involved with the student must be terminated as well. Most importantly, Student B deserves therapy and complete support for the trauma she endured in school at the hands of Employee A and all involved.

It is equally disturbing that what prompted the CS’s initial anger was when the student knocked his $300 pair of glasses to the ground. After this 9th grader was assaulted and restrained by the former Sheriff’s Deputy and staff, she was handcuffed and arrested, while her peers laughed and jeered along. The arrest, for “… Assaulting School Staff and Resisting Arrest.”

It should be noted that the tactics used by the Marine Corps Recruiter who de-escalated the situation with Student A (the other student involved in the fight) were humane and respectful.

While the investigator went on to discuss the school climate and mentioned Valhalla High School students’ frequent use of the n-word, the report also described Student B as “belligerent” at one point. 

The finding also revealed how the Campus Supervisor believed he was the victim in this situation and how he was “evaluated by San Miguel Fire Department…, sustained contusions… [and] was struck by student (B) five to six times in the upper body, arms, head and face and kicked in the upper body once by Student (B).”

These findings are beyond insulting to the student, her family, and the community. Local community organizations, like the NAACP San Diego, put out a statement calling for the Campus Supervisor’s immediate release. 

Yet, in spite of this plea, there has not been national news coverage on this story nor has there been an outcry of injustice from Black, Brown, Asian and White voices demanding justice for this student on a large scale or at the local level. 

A few months back, local activists of all colors rallied and called for the firing of a basketball coach for tortilla throwing at a CIF Championship game, which prompted not only forfeiture of the title but a release of the coach’s duties.

Yet, for a Black 9th-grade foster student in school, we receive a recommendation for training and transfer. 

So today, I call on the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the national Black Press, to alert our community and all of humanity who care about Black students’ lives and about this egregious act of anti-Blackness. This story must go viral! 

We must eradicate the racial trauma that occurs on our school campuses. As a group, Black students report the highest incidents of racial bias experiences nationwide (CRDC, 2019).  In other words, our youth do not feel safe in schools. 

It should be noted that Grossmont Union High School District has the highest amounts of suspensions and expulsions in all of San Diego County (Wood et al., 2019). These latest findings do not make schools any safer for our students. 

We must hold everyone, including lawmakers, accountable for the systemic changes that are needed in our community. 

Remove school police and resource officers, provide students with mental health support staff and create healing circles at lunchtime where students can eat and discuss what is going on in their lives.  

Our Black Fathers, Mothers, and all caring activists regardless of race must be ready to answer the call. Black Students need to know that they really do matter. 

(Katrina H. Hamilton is West Coast Correspondent for Muslim Journal – khasanhamilton@gmail.com)

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