How aggression & stereotypes led an 11 year old to be charged with 2 felonies by a School Peace Officer.
I write today’s piece angrily, and this is not how I try to come to you all, ever. Yet there’s no better way to describe my feelings other than outrage. I recently became aware of a case out of Farmington, New Mexico, and was brought to tears when I saw the way a grown man, in a position of power, used his authority to assault an 11 year old girl on school grounds. The worst of it, is that this happens more often than we’d like, where some school police officers usher students to and through the juvenile justice system due to a lack of de-escalation tactics and stereotypical biases. I want to use this sad situation to underscore how REAL the school to prison pipeline is. Had it been up to this one condemnable officer, this student would have two felonies, to answer for. Both of which were dismissed after review of the video footage.
It all started on August 27th at Mesa View Middle School when School Peace Officer, Zachary Christensen, reported an 11 year old, 6th grader had assaulted two staff members, and was resisting arrest. Thankfully, the 77 minute body camera video contradicted his entire description of events. What the video does show is a child who is initially quiet, and at best non-compliant. The initial incident that started this entire fiasco, revolves around the girl taking an extra milk from the cafeteria, and at some point throwing that milk on the floor. Based on this officers biases, lack of cultural competency, and poor communication skills, it’s evident that whatever training he had wasn’t effective. Zachary Christensen resigned on October 1st, 2019.
Too See the Video Click Below: (please be advised the content may disturbing, so assess what’s best for you)
So what can we do about it? Steve Hebbe, police chief, said that officer Christensen had attended the required de-escalation and peace officer training, I ask did he master them? Obviously not. Even when a school administrator attempted to intervene saying, “she is not a threat to yourself or others at this moment,” and “you are not going to use excessive force to get this done” Christensen persisted yelling back “we’re not excessive” using his full weight to pin the child down. We’ve got to act now if we want the behavior of our black and brown students to stop being criminalized in schools. Please take a moment to call or email the police chief and demand diversity and equity training with mastery requirements for “peace officers”! Let’s make some noise, we can be proud of!
CALL TO ACTION!!!!
CALL: 505) 599-1053 & Ask to speak to Chief Hebbe OR Email: email@example.com
Script: “Hi, My Name is ______________. I am calling about the incident with Officer Christensen that occured on August, 27th, 2019. I am aware he has resigned, however what’s being done to ensure the rest of your officers in schools won't assault children under the guise of the law? (listen) We are advocating for diversity and equity training, with mastery requirements, for “peace officers”. This is the only way to ensure we aren’t putting people like this next to our children”.