A North Carolina sheriff’s deputy pepper sprayed a high school student recently in another disturbing incident highlighting growing concern about Black people being used as target practice. The episode was caught on video at Seventy-First High School in Fayetteville, North Carolina on Tuesday. And yes, the event has pissed off many Black folks for good reason.
An altercation between two girls in the high school’s bus parking lot led to the shocking moment, footage posted to Instagram revealed. A school resource officer intervened to break up the fight, which caught the attention of the 16-year-old male student, who is Black. The deputy, who is also Black, then confronted the student for “interjecting himself into the fight,” authorities said, before the officer sprays the student, local Fayetteville source WRAL reported.
The student was later charged with resisting a public officer and possession of marijuana. He has not been identified, according to ABC 11.
What viewers see in the footage is startling, raising the question of whether the officer’s use of force was justified. This question is often a central concern among families and lawyers of the victim. The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office was reviewing the deputy’s use of the spray in the incident, according to WRAL.
We also have to ask if school resource officers, officials and county cops are really paying attention to what is happening to Black bodies in their communities as well as across the nation. It’s an uneasy nightmare playing out in cities where disturbing attacks by law enforcement are happening to people of color. These incidents should not be happening to a student, especially not occurring at a school, which should be a safe space.
Cumberland County Schools issued a standard statement about the incident. “Per the Feb. 6 incident at Seventy-First High School, there are consequences for our students’ actions that led up to the event per the Cumberland County Schools’ Student Code of Conduct,” a spokeswoman stated.
The North Carolina district has been a hotbed for incidents similar to this latest one. The Cumberland County school board caught backlash after high school teacher Lee Francis was suspended in September 2016 for stepping on the American Flag and teaching a freedom of speech lesson in Fayetteville.