The Black girls Officer Fields brutalized — Nia and Shakara — are each facing 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Call Richland Solicitor Johnson and demand he drop the charges against Nia and Shakara, and prosecute Fields:
Thank you for signing the petition to prosecute Officer Ben Fields and drop all charges against the students he brutalized — 18-year-old Nia Kenny and 16-year-old Shakara.
Even though Officer Fields was fired for the actions he took that day, the students are still facing charges for the baseless arrests he made. Local prosecutors are trying to do what they almost always do — let another discriminatory police officer off the hook and criminalize victims of police brutality by throwing another two Black teens into our broken justice system.1 We can't let them.
Will you call Richland County Solicitor Dan Johnson and tell him to stop criminalizing Black teens and prosecute Officer Fields? It will only take a moment and we've prepared a helpful call script.
We all saw the video. Shakara and Nia committed no crime, yet they are the only ones facing criminal charges after the #AssaultAtSpringValley. This type of grave injustice is a perfect example of the systemic racism and inequality at the core of our justice system. While we've all watched officer after officer get away with the unjustified killing of Black people, Black and brown youth are fined and locked up everyday for the most minor issues.2 The unjust criminal charges targeting Nia and Shakara are not an isolated incident, but part of a much larger system built to criminalize and oppress Black youth.
For the past 25 years, federal and state officials have pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into putting more police officers in schools under the guise of "school safety."3 Instead of investing in the education and well-being of Black students, the same tough-on-crime politics that resulted in the US having the world's largest prison population has also laid the groundwork for criminalizing zero tolerance policies in schools. More and more Black children are being locked up for things like bringing a cell phone to school or scribbling on a desk.4 Today, Black girls are 6 times more likely to be expelled than white students and more than 70% of kids arrested in school are Black or Latin@.5
ColorOfChange members know what happens to Black youth when they are thrown into the justice system. To start, a Black kid today is almost 5 times more likely to be arrested, charged and jailed as a white kid for the exact same issue.6 Once incarcerated, the trauma and brutality they face is unimaginable, yet so real. And once released, there are thousands of legal and political barriers that stand in the way of a bright future. Kids who are arrested are far more likely to drop out of school.7 Now that the world is paying attention to this case, we can send a strong message that we won't tolerate the criminalization of black youth, especially in schools. If enough people call today, we have a chance at changing Solicitor Dan Johnson's mind and protecting Nia and Shakara's right to freedom and safety.8
Richland County Solicitor Dan Johnson needs to feel national pressure. Call today and tell him to stop criminalizing Black girls and bring abusive and racist police officers to justice.
Arisha, Rashad, Scott, Lyla and the rest of the ColorOfChange team
November 6th, 2015
1. "'Officer Slam' Threw Teen From Her Desk Over Cellphone, Lawyer Says," Huffington Post 10-29-2015
2. "For Every 1,000 People Killed by Police, Only 1 Cop is Convicted of a Crime, New Study Finds," Alternet 04-16-2015
3. "'Good guys' with guns: how police officers became fixtures in US schools," Guardian 10-28-2015
4. "School to Prison Pipeline Infographic," Advancement Project (.pdf)
5. See reference 4.
6. "'Burning Down The House' Makes The Case Against Juvenile Incarceration," NPR 06-04-2014
7. "Fact Sheet on School Discipline and the Pushout Problem" Dignity In Schools (.pdf)
8. "The Criminalization of Black Girls — and How We Can End It," ColorLines 10-30-2015
ColorOfChange is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change. Help keep our movement strong.