Warning: this article contains video footage which may be disturbing to some.
As reported today by BuzzfeedNews, a black high school student in Pennsylvania was attacked by a white school police officer.
On Monday, February 4, a student uploaded a video of an incident which took place at Hazleton Area High School. At the beginning of the video, a young black female can be seen yelling “let me go.” The unidentified female — presumably a student — is being restrained by a white male, as she struggles to release herself from his grip. The male is not seen wearing an officer’s uniform, though he is wearing an outfit — consisting of a red shirt and a lanyard/badge — which is worn by other adults in the video.
The video then pans to another student, who is being restrained by multiple adults, including two school officers — identified by their distinct uniforms. One of the officers proceeds to punch the unidentified student in her leg multiple times, before she is forcibly pushed onto the table, with her head turned to the side. One adult male restrains the student by holding her head against the table, grabbing her by her hair.
Immediately, multiple students begin to yell at the officers — presumably for the way they treated and restrained the young student. One young male rushes to the girl’s aid, scaling a table in order to bridge the gap between himself and the student who was attacked.
The student who posted the video (embedded above) captioned the footage with the following message.
“This is wrong on so many levels this man violated her patrón talk so much s**t when it comes to keeping the school “safe” wonder how he gonna fix this smh what a school.”
Brian Ulinger, the superintendent for the Hazleton Area School District, explained that the detained students had been involved in an altercation with other classmates.
“The security officers and school police officers were within the scope of their training to detain these individuals. Had they not, there would have been additional injuries to other students within the cafeteria,” said Uplinger explained in an email sent to BuzzFeed News.
Ed Harry, the police chief for the school district, told TV station WBRE that the school officers were acting to deescalate the situation.
A black high school student in Pennsylvania was punched and had her hair pulled by a school police officerhttps://t.co/2h0iHKvyFO— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) February 6, 2019
“At that point, the officer had to get that under control immediately. You can see from the snippet of video there were hundreds of kids in the cafeteria, and they were cheering her on, yelling and cheering her on. They needed to deescalate that,” he told WBRE.
As Buzzfeed News notes, statistics show that arrests of black students by school officers occur at a disproportionate level. While black students comprise 15 percent of enrollment across the nation, they account for 30 percent of students arrested by on-site officers.