Dragged Across the Classroom Floor: It’s Time to Admit That Schools Are Prisons

October 29, 2015   |   Dan Sanchez

Dan Sanchez
October 29, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) Richland County, SC A Spring Valley High School student took her cell phone out in math class. According to her classmate, Tony Robinson Jr., “it was only for a quick second.” But that made no difference to the teacher, who, adhering to the “zero tolerance” policy so common in American schools, demanded she surrender her phone.

Already deprived of her freedom by compulsory schooling, she refused to be deprived of her property, as well. The teacher called in a school administrator. She still would not obey, so the petty bureaucrats literally called the cops on her. The school’s resource officer, Sheriff’s Deputy Ben Fields, was summoned to coerce compliance out of the willful girl.

Upon entering the classroom, Officer Fields had a desk moved and transferred a laptop computer from the girl’s desk to another one, according to Robinson. You can see him calmly setting the laptop down in one of the videos. What was he preparing the surroundings for? Alarm bells went off in Robinson’s head:

When I saw what was about to happen my immediate first thing to think is let me get this on camera. This is going to be something that not only I’m going to be like ‘wow did this really happened at my class’ but just something that everybody else needs to see. This is something that we can’t let this just pass by.

He took out his phone to start recording. Robinson continued:

He asked her again, ‘will you move, will you move.’  She said ‘no I have not done anything wrong.; Then he said I’m going to treat you fairly. And she said ‘I don’t even know who you are.. And that is where it started right there.

Officer Fields wrapped one arm around the girl’s neck, placed his other hand under her thigh, and violently flipped her backward onto the floor, along with her combination desk/chair. By her wrists and thigh, he then dragged her and the entangled desk along the floor, yanked her free of it, and flung her to the front of the classroom, where he mounted and cuffed her.

Put your hands behind your back. Give me your hands. Give me your hands,” he commanded while she softly muttered something indiscernible.

Quite clearly, that was what moving the desk and laptop was all about. From the moment he was called in, the cowardly bully knew he had an excuse to live out his martial arts fantasies by assaulting a defenseless teenage girl. He cleared the way so his planned attack would not be obstructed or result in the expensive destruction of what might have been school property.

Another classmate, Niya Kenny, who also recorded the assault, was arrested as well — for vocally protesting.

I was screaming ‘What the f, what the f is this really happening?’ I was praying out loud for the girl,” Kenny told WLTX. “I just couldn’t believe this was happening I was just crying and he said, since you have so much to say you are coming too. I just put my hands behind my back.”

Although it was premeditated, what may have made the assault particularly zealous was the cop’s petulant indignation over the girl’s “I don’t even know who you are” remark.

It wouldn’t have been the first time Fields flipped out after detecting the slightest note of ‘disrespect.’ That also describes another of his assaults from back in 2005. The Daily News reported:

Martin said the beefy officer ‘snapped’ after he called him ‘dude,’ and slammed him on the ground. He began pepper-spraying the helpless veteran, but Martin said he was trained in the military to resist the chemicals. An entire canister of the stuff failed to disable Martin.

‘He became even more violent because I didn’t react like most people would,’ Martin told the News.

His wife at the time, Tashiana Rogers, witnessed the fracas, and ran outside to take photos of the violent encounter with her cellphone.

That’s when Fields called for his partner to ‘get her black ass,’ Martin said. The officer grabbed her phone and deleted the photos.

Fields then called for backup.

‘I’m watching my wife get beat up in front of me, and there’s nothing I can do about it,’ Martin said.

During the arrest, Martin told Fields the rough arrest would lead to a lawsuit.

‘I’m glad Johnny Cochran is dead,’ Fields shot back, according to Martin.

The officer also told Martin as he was cuffed that ‘you’re just another notch in my belt,’ according to court documents.

‘That was shocking. I was definitely shocked that the jury did not find in her favor,’ Mobley said.

Rogers was shocked too. She worries Fields was allowed to operate with impunity — giving him freedom to terrorize high school students.

‘I felt like if he had felt the consequences from 2005, this wouldn’t happen today,’ she told the Daily News.”

Fields was recently fired over the Spring Valley incident, but it is doubtful he will ever be prosecuted. He will more likely become yet another “gypsy cop” wandering from department to department, leaving battered and broken human beings in his wake.

Unleashing rabid cops like Fields on kids is just one aspect of the evolution of American schools into high-security prisons, as outlined by John W. Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute in his essential essay, “Public School Students Are the New Inmates in the American Police State.”

He quotes investigative journalist Annette Fuentes, who wrote:

Every day in communities across the United States, children and adolescents spend the majority of their waking hours in schools that have increasingly come to resemble places of detention more than places of learning. From metal detectors to drug tests, from increased policing to all-seeing electronic surveillance, the public schools of the twenty-first century reflect a society that has become fixated on crime, security and violence.

As Whitehead writes:

… America’s public schools contain almost every aspect of the militarized, intolerant, senseless, overcriminalized, legalistic, surveillance-riddled, totalitarian landscape that plagues those of us on the ‘outside.’

As such, they have become:

… a microcosm of the American police state, right down to the host of surveillance technologies, including video cameras, finger and palm scanners, iris scanners, as well as RFID and GPS tracking devices, employed to keep constant watch over their student bodies.

Here is Whitehead on cops in schools:

“…police are more and more ‘stepping in to deal with minor rulebreaking—sagging pants, disrespectful comments, brief physical skirmishes. What previously might have resulted in a detention or a visit to the principal’s office was replaced with excruciating pain and temporary blindness, often followed by a trip to the courthouse.

Thanks to a combination of media hype, political pandering and financial incentives, the use of armed police officers to patrol school hallways has risen dramatically in the years since the Columbine school shooting (nearly 20,000 by 2003). Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, these school resource officers (SROs) have become de facto wardens in elementary, middle, and high schools, doling out their own brand of justice to the so-called ‘criminals’ in their midst with the help of tasers, pepperspray, batons and brute force.

“The horror stories are legion.

“One SRO is accused of punching a 13-year-old student in the face for cutting the cafeteria line. That same cop put another student in a chokehold a week later, allegedly knocking the student unconscious and causing a brain injury. In Pennsylvania, a student was tased after ignoring an order to put his cell phone away.

And here is Whitehead on the school-to-prison pipeline:

…the government is also contracting with private prisons to lock up our young people for behavior that once would have merited a stern lecture. Nearly 40 percent of those young people who are arrested will serve time in a private prison, where the emphasis is on making profits for large megacorporations above all else. […]

“This profit-driven system of incarceration has also given rise to a growth in juvenile prisons and financial incentives for jailing young people. Indeed, young people have become easy targets for the private prison industry, which profits from criminalizing childish behavior and jailing young people. For instance, two Pennsylvania judges made headlines when it was revealed that they had been conspiring with two businessmen in a $2.6 million ‘kids for cash’ scandal that resulted in more than 2500 children being found guilty and jailed in for-profit private prisons.

However, the “school-to-prison pipeline” is actually more of an inter-prison transfer system. As Whitehead writes:

…the schools have also come to resemble prisons, complete with surveillance cameras, metal detectors, drug-sniffing dogs, random locker searches and active shooter drills.”

I would offer one quibble. Schools “resemble” prisons because they are prisons. The trend we are seeing is simply that the lower security prisons we incarcerate our children in are becoming more like the high security prisons we bury drug offenders under.

Indeed, as psychologist Peter Gray has asked, what distinguishes a school from a prison?

The only difference I can think of is that to get into prison you have to commit a crime, but they put you in school just because of your age. In other respects school and prison are the same. In both places you are stripped of your freedom and dignity. You are told exactly what you must do, and you are punished for failing to comply. Actually, in school you must spend more time doing exactly what you are told to do than is true in adult prisons, so in that sense school is worse than prison.

Dr. Gray argues that we make a distinction without a difference between school and prison as a coping mechanism:

We all tiptoe around this truth, that school is prison, because telling the truth makes us all seem so mean. How could all these nice people be sending their children to prison for a good share of the first 18 years of their lives? […]

“…people rationalize it by saying (not usually in these words) that children need this particular kind of prison and may even like it if the prison is run well. If children don’t like school, according to this rationalization, it’s not because school is prison, but is because the wardens are not kind enough, or amusing enough, or smart enough to keep the children’s minds occupied appropriately.”

But in reality, as Dr. Gray explains, children need not special prisons, but freedom in rich and varied social environments to teach themselves — as they are naturally inclined to do. For more details, read Dr. Peter Gray’s indispensable blog at Psychology Today.

As John Taylor Gatto makes clear in his work, schools only succeed in fostering the learning they were designed to impart in the first place: (1) habitual slavish compliance to authority and (2) an inert, incurious dullness and revulsion for the world of ideas. The second teaching reinforces the first.

Schools are prison labor camps where children are forced to toil at the production of their own spiritual chains.

Officer Fields dragged and and shackled that young girl like a prison inmate because she is one. All schools are prisons. But then all prisons are schools, too. Officer Fields, like all prison guards, also acted as a teacher. What you see in that video is not just police brutality, but education.

And the instruction he imparted was in perfect harmony with the core curriculum of all schools. Officer Ben Fields was teaching not only his victim, but every student in that room the following lesson:

Your bodies, cell phones, and other possessions are ultimately not your own. They belong to the authorities. They belong to the State. And when the State comes to repossess, you must yield or suffer, comply or die.

Class dismissed.

Related Essays by Dan Sanchez

The Virtue of Defiance

Freddie Gray and the Western District Way

Spencerian Parenting

This article (Dragged Across the Classroom Floor: It’s Time to Admit That Schools Are Prisons) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Dan Sanchez and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, please email edits@theantimedia.org.

Author: Dan Sanchez

Dan Sanchez began contributing to Anti-Media as an independent journalist in August of 2015. His topics of interest include anti-imperialism, economic education, libertarian philosophy, peaceful parenting, and police accountability. He currently resides in Auburn, Alabama. You can find his work on DanSanchez.me. 

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  1. Hebrew OT: WLC (Consonants & Vowels) English: King James Version
    Isaiah 14:2. וּלְקָחוּם עַמִּים וֶהֱבִיאוּם אֶל־מְקֹומָם וְהִתְנַחֲלוּם בֵּית־יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל אַדְמַת יְהוָה לַעֲבָדִים וְלִשְׁפָחֹות וְהָיוּ שֹׁבִים לְשֹׁבֵיהֶם וְרָדוּ בְּנֹגְשֵׂיהֶם׃ ס And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors. .2

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  3. Let's sum up: Kid whips out phone. Teacher says leave, kid refuses. School administrator comes, says leave, kid refuses. School cop comes says leave. Kid refuses, cop says I'll make you then. Kid refuses (final mistake on the mistake agenda). Cop is actually polite, doesn't taze, but makes the kid leave. The only problems I'm seeing are (a) Kid too damn stoopid to understand what it means when somebody in authority's got the drop on you, you best play along and fight later) and (b) Kid's parent is too damn incompetent to teach her to respect authoritah, not realizing the kid will also disrespect her parent(s) then.

    I'm not seeing a problem here, except in the BS liberal communist responses. Hell, I'd give the cop a medal for controlling the little beeyotch, 'cause her mama sure ain't.

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  4. And also, this article goes to show the attitude of the worthless turds that your tax money is going to support in the future, if it's not already.

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  5. Our public schools have become a wasteland of educational opportunity due to the neutering of teachers and administrators ability to maintain any semblence of control over the student population. 1 unruly kid now affects every other kid in the rooms ability to learn. The problem kids are locked into the system because they can't be gotten rid of, nor can they be disciplined nor shamed.

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  6. Good luck with that as more than half of the black population won't bother to get up and go to work I really don't see you all coming together to rule over shit! Even when left to yourselves you still rob and shoot each other rather than do anything productive. Oh hell why am I wasting my breath, go back to your crack pipe.

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  7. The Old Testament Covenant was fulfulled and ended when the Son of God came upon the earth and was murdered by His own, descended to hell, took all the old testament faithful to heaven, opened heaven to the souls of ALL men of faith and rose from the dead. (search "Shroud of Turin". It can't be proven to be fake. Can't be explained as anything but an x-ray image of a crucified man who was wrapped in a burial cloth – but how can it possibly be? Even the back left an image meaning the body was levitating in the air as the x-ray was made.)
    Christ was not a respecter of race or title, he preached the faith to all. The Israelites had a belief that only Israelites could go to heaven, Christ preached otherwise which is why they conspired for His death. Also, just to nitpick, the Old Testament Covenant was between God and the Israelites – children descended from Abraham. The children of Abraham broke into two factions: Israel and Juda. Not sure how "african americans" fit into that as the land promised by God to the Israelites and revealed to Jacob to be in Canaan and the land of Judea and the land of Africa are not the same place. Please learn to be colorblind for God, too, is colorblind. Learn to be of the faith. God created us to love and worship Him and the reward is to love and worship Him in the everlasting hereafter.
    The Kingdom of Christ is not of this world, it is of the spirit. It is for those who live the faith to enter into when their flesh is done on this world. Where do you find the faith? See mostholyfamilymonaster(dot)com for help.
    The Church was founded upon Peter. The prophets also foretold the destruction of that Church as well.
    The antichrist has come and gone, the false prophet has retired to a place he can't be prosecuted in for his crimes against children. The seven Kings have come and gone, the whore on the beast is in our midst, the saints cry out to God for justice, God calls His people to not drink from the cup of the whore or they will partake in her punishments.
    The Book of Apocalypse is almost entirely fulfilled. You must read it as a child, willing to be taught, not believeing you already know what it means or that it hasn't been interpreted correctly by the Church established on Peter. The Holy Roman Catholic Church and it's saints gave you every book in the "king james bible" you quote from , and even more, but King James decided to withhold quite a bit. You could learn from the past if you had the Books of the Maccabees. You would see that history repeats in profound ways. The people of God cast off His teaching and embrace false beliefs – much to the anger of our Lord – then as well as now. Idolatry brings all sort of misery to Earth from the hand of God.
    Don't let pride tell you not to look into what I say to you – pride is one of the seven deady sins and the fallen ones will turn it against you to sell you that apple that looks so good but inside is rotten.
    Turn to the Holy Virgin, she is the Queen Mother and has influence with the King. She loves God with her whole soul and He rewarded her faithfulness by letting her choose to become a mother not by the works of man but but the works of the Holy Spirit. Do not discount her. You want to quote the Bible then don't forget all the old testament prophecies about the Holy Virgin. She is so important to salvation that even the beginning, in Genesis, God tells us his judgment to the serpent "….and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between her seed (Christ) and thy seed…" (those who love the spirit of lies and allow evil to work thru them are the serpent's). Eve bought damnation upon mankind, the Mother Of God bought salvation to us. You can look at the site I mentioned above to search for OT quotes about Our Mother.
    If you knock the door will open, seek and you will find. Thirst for holiness and your thirst will be quenched. Jesus rebuked Peter for pulling out a sword to defend Him when Judas bought betrayal forth. All who live by the sword will die by the sword, are you sure you would want to be a ruling people?

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