March 14, Fairmount Park Elementary School teacher Christina Ottersbach set up a camcorder to record herself teaching for future evaluation. She ended up recording nearly a half-hour of video showing 5-year-old Ja'eisha Scott alternately lashing out and quietly ignoring her teachers' instructions.Further coverage here and here. Excerpts from the video are here and here (via Wizbang).
The footage starts in Ottersbach's classroom, where assistant principal Nicole Dibenedetto and teacher Patti Tsaousis are trying to calm Ja'eisha down and get her to clean up a mess that she has made. Ottersbach had pulled her other students out of the room because of the girl's unseen outburst, leaving just the three.
"This is your mess to clean up. We need you to stop. You may not do this," Dibenedetto patiently but firmly tells the girl, who stubbornly refuses.
Eventually, Ja'eisha did start cleaning up the mess, but after that, she refused to leave the room. Only when Dibenedetto and Tsaousis asked her to make a choice before they counted to five did she finally leave with them.
Things evidently did not improve after that, however. The tape cuts to Dibenedetto's office, which has been trashed, apparently by Ja'eisha. She is seen ripping papers off the wall and refusing Dibenedetto's requests to stay in a chair.
Ja'eisha even becomes violent at that point, taking countless swings at Dibenedetto, who only puts her hands up to block the girl's punches. The only other time the assistant principal touches the girl is when she lifts Ja'eisha off a table she had twice climbed upon.
Shortly after that, voices are heard saying that police have arrived. Ja'eisha sits in the chair pouting as three uniformed St. Petersburg police officers walk in.
"Do you remember me?" one of them asks Ja'eisha. "I'm the one who told your mom I'd put handcuffs on you."
The officers followed up on that threat, pulling the girl from the chair and handcuffing her behind her back. The anguish on the Ja'eisha's face is evident in the tape, which cuts off seconds after she starts screaming. .
What I want to know—for starters—is why, after quite a bit of googling and technorati-ing, does it appear that Marian the only person on the entire internet to point out that this is about the treatment of African Americans in the US?
I am almost physically ill after watching U.S. television news video of a 5 year old child - a little girl who "just happens" to be Black - first, being set upon by two women - both white - who purportedly are her teachers; then later as the little girl sits quietly - being surrounded and handcuffed by 3 police officers - every one of them also "just happens" to be white.I also want to know why the teachers kept the camera rolling, at one point turning it to follow the action, and then brought the camera with them to the principal's office to continue recording the incident there. The video record of their actions is of some value in pursuing justice in this matter, but it is also a terrible violation of the little girl's privacy. What did they think they needed the video for? Was it an "opportunity" to study this little girl's behavior? An attempt to cover their asses? Either way there is something deeply wrong about it.
This is happening in Florida USA. The same Florida of Election 2000 where George Bush's brother, Jeb Bush, is governor. I think CNN reported the town, school system and police department are in St. Petersburg, FL. What kind of country is this? ... Where in the name of God are the voices of the U.S. and international human rights community??? Police - as agents of the government - handcuffing a five year old child. What more does anyone need to witness in order to recognise the continued and escalating criminalisation of being Black. We need an international mobilisation around this.
Why the police had to be there at all is beyond me. The St. Petersburg Times indicates the officers showed up at 3:00 p.m. When the school office called the girl's mother at 2:00 p.m., she said she could be there by 3:15. Why couldn't the officers have waited fifteen minutes for the girl's mother to arrive? There is nothing about this situation that makes it appropriate for white police officers to terrorize a Black five-year-old girl. For binding her hands with plastic ties and handcuffing her ankles, the officers should lose their jobs (I bet they don't receive any disciplinary action) and they should do time in some dark corner of our country's God forsaken prison system.
UPDATE: Arresting Children Under 12 In Florida
It's a statewide epidemic, and Pinellas County, which includes St. Petersburg, leads the state, along with Hillsborough County, in arresting children under 11 years old.
UPDATE: Focus On Pinellas County Schools
• "Black kids are mistreated every day in Pinellas County schools"
• Class Action Suit: "the district has failed to narrow a yawning achievement gap between black and white students, in violation of the equal protection clause in the state Constitution."
UPDATE: Things You May Not Have Read About The Ja'eisha Scott Case
• Accounts Of Police Involvement In Ja'eisha Scott Case Raise New Questions About Assist. Principal Dibenedetto's Intent