Birmingham Police Officers, employed as School Resource Officers in Birmingham City Schools, routinely use chemical weapons against schoolchildren to enforce basic school discipline. Mace was used against schoolchildren who were completely restrained and not a danger to themselves or anyone else. Adults taunted the children and celebrated their punishment.
The Birmingham City School System is 96% African American.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has filed a federal class action lawsuit targeting the use of mace as a means of basic school discipline. The SPLC had previously raised the issue with the Birmingham School Board which was unresponsive, prompting the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges violation of constitutional rights through the use of chemical weapons.
Conservatives have long campaigned to rid the country of public schools. The public school system is the principal method for members of the lower economic class, often African Americans, to escape to the middle class and beyond. The lack of an education maintains African Americans as lower class citizens. The use of chemical weapons and the accompanying hostility is having the effect of driving African American children out of the school system, preserving the current elite class.
If the public school system is eliminated, only the elite will be able to afford private education for their children, maintaining their current status. The public school system is the keystone in America’s ability to claim it is the land of opportunity.
H/T: Southern Poverty Law Center.
-David Drumm (Nal)
84 thoughts on “The Mace Case”
Sorry if I stepped on your feet there, nal. We must have been contemporaneously composing.
The color of the parties is irrelevant to the claim at bar. The suit filed by the SPLC alleges that Birmingham Board of Education, Superintendent Craig Witherspoon, and the Birmingham Police Department violated the constitutional rights of Birmingham students through an abusive and unconstitutional policy that allows School Resource Officers to use chemical weapons against them to enforce basic school discipline. These claims are based on the 4th and 14th Amendment rights of the students.
The relevant law reads:
“Amendment Four – Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The relevant part of the 14th Amendment reads:
“Amendment 14 – Citizenship Rights. Ratified 7/9/1868.
1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
“42 U.S.C. § 1983. Civil action for deprivation of rights
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.”
In addition to the torts of assault and battery.
Nowhere is race mentioned in the cause of action. That’s a fact. I read the pleading here: http://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/downloads/case/Birmingham-schools-mace-complaint.pdf
Nal’s closing statement is clear and it’s not about racism, but economic elitism.
“If the public school system is eliminated, only the elite will be able to afford private education for their children, maintaining their current status. The public school system is the keystone in America’s ability to claim it is the land of opportunity.”
Your primary complaint – other than your inference that conservatives are racists, something that nal is a good enough writer to express clearly had that been his intent – seems to be that “the (primarily white-run) SPLC” is helping out kids whose Constitutional rights were violated and that because these kids were black in a school district run by blacks that they should be left alone to “prevent or ameliorate racism in their own schools”.
Too bad for you that the issue isn’t race, but freedom from unreasonable seizures, equal protection under the law, civil rights violation and tort action for assault and battery.
You’re really not helping conservatives overcome the idea that they are racists (and elitists) by making an argument – such as it is – based primarily on race of the SPLC and the victims in relation to the abusers and your blustering indignation at your inference that conservatives are racists against an article that is only tangentially about race.
The reason the SPLC is helping these kids is 1) they’re poor and 2) their rights were violated. End of story. They are the Southern Poverty Law Center, not the Southern Poor Black/White/Whatever Law Center. Poverty is the salient part of their mission. I know some of the people involved in the SPLC and they don’t care about your skin color. Only that you’re too poor to legally stand up for your rights. They’d fight for these kids rights if the kids were white and their abusers were white. Hell, they’d fight for these kids rights if the kids were plaid and their abusers were transparent.
In fact, the nature of your objections sound, quite frankly, blatantly racist.
Neither nal nor the Prof owes anyone an apology, least of all you.
Thanks for the authorship correction. We’ve since moved the tagline to the top and emboldened it so it will be more prominent. The Professor does not audit our posts. The views in the post are those of the individual guest blogger.
Not quite. I said that would be the effect of destroying public education.
Good point, I will be more careful in the future.
This assumes that your first quoted statement above is accurate. Since it is not, this one is not.
I still believe that many conservatives (including the Tea Party, libertarians, and the religious right) want to, in effect, privatize the current educational system. This privatization will be accomplished via school “choice” and “vouchers.” The reasons are as different as the different groups who support it. The adverse effects will fall heavily on low-income groups, often African-Americans. These effects will have a racial component and a class component. If anyone infers from that statement that I implied that the above groups are racist, their inference is inaccurate.
Nal, I apologize for believing that a post on Jonathan Turley’s blog was actually authored by Turley, and missing the tag line at the bottom.
Figuring you’re some 1L intern, I’d have cut you a bit of slack had I seen that, and I’ll note it over at Right Network as Turley’s editorial failure rather than directly his poor inference.
That said, however, you should seriously consider what you said and didn’t say. You noted the issue and the SPLC — not exactly the most reliable source any more — lawsuit and then made your unjustified assertion that conservatives not only want to destroy public education, but that they want to destroy public education in order to preserve white hegemony.
When pressed on that, you appear to be defending yourself by saying you didn’t mean them to be connected, and that the mention of school issues was a mere non sequitur, rather than an attempt at argument.
The problems are manifold: to mention two, I think you need to understand that when you put two assertions together in a short article, whether you intend it or no, you appear to be connecting them. If you hadn’t noticed that in the past, this would be a good time to learn. It’s also true that if it really was a non sequitur, it’s a point in Freshman Composition that you should avoid non sequiturs.
Beyond that, there’s the fact that the assertion itself, of inherent racism in conservatism, is despicable and insulting. A defense of non sequitur doesn’t change that.
Now, add to that the notion that just because the Chief of Police, Mayor, City Council, and School Board are all African American or very heavily dominated by African Americans, it doesn’t mean the City and schools aren’t really white racists is to assert that in a city that completely controlled politically by black people, they’re somehow unable to prevent or ameliorate racism in their own schools without the help of the (primarily white-run) SPLC. This is condescending at best, intensely derogatory, and frankly has a lot better claim to racism than the Birmingham story.
Finally, you should recognize that by writing this ludicrous post you’re done real damage to Prof. Turley’s reputation, as well as whatever nascent reputation you might hve been developing. You might well protest it was, after all, posted under your own name, but it was posted on Turley’s blog, with Turley’s picture bold in the banner line.
If you have any morality to go with your sense of moral dudgeon, you’d offer an apology both to your readers and to Professor Turley.
“It is not a assertion of institutional racism in the BPD. It is a general statement.”
As I said, you’re being intellectually dishonest.
And your “observing” says exactly what in relation to my comments here?
Some of the above comments just don’t pass the ol’ smell test. The phrase “thou dost protest too much” comes to mind…
Jason Coleman’s link takes us to a blog and the following:
Tea Party — 2010 Tax Day Protest in Birmingham, AL
Get a printable flyer here.
The “printable flyer” link:
Rainy Day Patriots from Birmingham
It is not a assertion of institutional racism in the BPD. It is a general statement.
Nal @ 7:14
Now you’re just being intellectually dishonest.
“Just because a police department has an African-American chief, doesn’t mean that police racism has somehow disappeared. ”
That’s your quote, and in the context of your discussion it IS an unsupported assertion of institutional racism in the Birmingham PD.
I’m no fan of the BPD, but your insinuations and baseless accusations throughout this page are simply unsupported by anything you have offered.
Have you even bothered to check and see if the BPD is majority white or majority black?
You still offer no proof, only an unsupported assertion of, institutional racism at the Birmigham PD.
You first made the claim “institutional racism” — PROVE IT. I’ll wait.
Easy as flushing quail:
Salaries (from the SPLC’s own IRS filings [Form 990, page7):
Cohen, CEO, $345K
Dees, Trial Counsel $348K
Thieves. Only poverty they’re alleviating is their own. Wow, look at all those investment
properties and accounts and $100K+ salaries for Directors of this-and-that. That’s alot of
loot for fighting/alleviating poverty.
And yes I know I misspelled obvious in my above post, so don’t bother pointing out a meaningless typo.
“From the conservative Cato Institute.”
In a bid to make your case, you engage in yet another bit of obvoius dishonesty by characterizing the CATO Institute as conservative, rather than libertarian. And please don’t try and claim they are the same because they aren’t, period. The CATO Institute rejects the notion that they are conservative. CONSERVATISM AND LIBERTARIANISM ARE NOT INTERCHANGABLE.
The Cato Institute is Libertarian, not conservative, genius. Can you string together two sentences without making a factual error? Doesn’t seem that way.
Liberals are clearly morons:
From the conservative Cato Institute: Public Schools: Make Them Private.
Is the Cato Institue prominent enough?
Everyone who made the mistake of reading the fact-free post above should read this:
The author does make the mistake of assigning authorship to Turley, but everything else is completely valid. And since it is on Turley’s blog, it would seem he has tacitly approved of the blog post Again, I challenge the author of the above blog post to name a prominent, mainstream Conservative group or individual(s) who want to get rid of the entire public school system in the US.
If you want to slam conservatives, fine, but don’t do it by engaging in the lamest guilt-by-association smear attempt I have ever seen. It seems the author of the above post is trying to state that
A)Conservatives have problems with our public schools
B) A kid in the Birmgingham Public School system was sprayed with pepper spray
C)Conservatives are responsible for this incident, whether they wree involved or not, because they criticize the public schools.
D)Since Conservatives are responsible, they must be bigots.
The blog post is so bad it reads like some sort of bad parody.
It’s pretty obvious that you know very very little about Birmingham, even less about its police force and even less about its school system.
I really can’t see how you can continue to stand behind an article with so many fatal flaws. You should have simply ceded the point long ago and started from scratch.
The most unfortunate part is that you could have found out about all these things very easily to make sure your points were valid. You obviously chose not to.
Conservatives have long campaigned to get rid of the public school system? That has to be the stupidest assertion I have ever read on a blog in my life. I challenge you to name one prominent conservative in the past few years or point to one large scale demonstration by conservatives whose goal was “getting rid of the public school system”. Making public schools better? Sure. Lobbying for more competition? Yes. Getting rid of it? Give me a break. Conservatives have lobbied to get rid of the Dept. of Education, but to claim they want to get rid of the public school system is just plain stupid. Moreover, it has absolutely nothing, at all, to do with the case discussed in the blog post.
The biggest flaw of this stupid blog post? The fact that blacks are in charge of most levels of local governance in Birmingham. I guess they must all be black conservatives who are trying to keep these black kids down, despite the fact they have D’s behind their names. But hey, what is ignoring a few important facts when you have a really, really stupid “point” to make?
Given the sheer ludicrousness of the above blog post, it should come as no surprise that several blogs (large and influential blogs, in contrast to this blog) are mocking the post.
What a joke.
I think that lack of support for public education is a contributing factor in both the mace case and poor performance. I see the lack of support manifested as hostility on one end to complete apathy on the other end. Apathy allows for the continuation of mediocrity. Hostility revels in the continuation of mediocrity.
Let’s consider the Public spending per student – Primary level (most recent) by country where the U.S. ranks 36th with a slightly above average expenditure.
Let’s consider the Public spending per student – Secondary level (most recent) by country where the U.S. ranks 51st with an average expenditure.
Comments are closed.