Jill Scott, A Former Teacher’s Aide, Speaks On Spring Valley High Incident: “He Swung That Child Around Like He Hated Her”

October 29, 2015  |  

Jill Scott has garnered a great deal of fame from her music and acting credits, but before stepping into the spotlight, she stepped into the classroom on a regular basis as a teacher’s aide. Her experience working with young people wasn’t an easy one, but Scott told the Huffington Post that she would never have allowed a situation like the one we all saw go down in Spring Valley High School in South Carolina.

While studying secondary education at Temple University in the hopes of teaching high school English, Scott was a TA. She eventually fell out of love with the idea of being a teacher and left Temple. But she encountered quite a few feisty students with tart tongues during her time working with young people. And yet, she, like many people, was still very disgusted by the actions of Officer Ben Fields towards the 16-year-old girl he flung around that Spring Valley High classroom.

“I was [once] a teacher and I remember their mouths — I know the students have a whole day to sit down and think of something negative to say, but you’re supposed to be the adult,” Scott said. “You’re supposed to be able to take a breath and walk away, and still do your job. This is violence. He swung that child around like he hated her. And that’s too much.”

Scott also made note of the reactions of the other students and the teacher in the 16-year-old’s class–or lack thereof. To the singer, their lukewarm response to the violent episode was a sign that this sort of dysfunctional behavior is a common thing in that institution.

“The way that the students and the teacher were so lackadaisical about the whole thing. Nobody screamed, nobody stood up,” Scott said. “It looks like something that’s been going on in that school for a long time.”

As I recently stated, I do think a lot of the officers placed in communities and schools filled with a majority of people of color don’t often appear to be very fond of that people. This sort of thing should be evaluated. Scott had an even better idea in mind. She said in her chat with the Huffington Post that she thinks those hoping to become police officers need to be tested beforehand so that instead of automatically using their hands and their weapons against people, they will do a better job of using their “minds and hearts” first.

“I think there has to be a test. Just like you have to learn how to hold and to use your weapon — I think police officers need to learn how to use their minds and hearts,” Scott said. “These are people, and I think their fear may overwhelm them and whatever residual feelings they have from childhood or whatever.

I think there needs to be physiological examinations before you can become a police officer, examinations about your past and lie detector tests. It’s easy for any of us to end up in somebody’s prison, and I’d like it to be a lot harder for police officers to become police officers.”

Amen to that, sister. I too believe that many officers forget that when they take that uniform off, they’re just ordinary people like the rest of us. And when they put it on, they take with them the prejudice and issues they’ve carried for quite some time. And yet, you give folks a gun, and they believe they’re invincible–and the lack of real consequences for violent and disrespectful behavior, like what happened in that classroom, often validates that feeling of invincibility.

But if people are really serious about minimizing the police brutality going on in this country, law enforcement should take heed of Scott’s recommendation. Skip the body cams and start by hiring emotionally stable people to patrol our streets, as opposed to any ol’ Tom, Dick and Harry looking for a check and a power trip.

 

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