If this description of events is correct, what is happening to teens in Birmingham's schools is Totally Unacceptable! But I don't know about banning the use of pepper spray altogether. How do other police Dept.s handle the use of pepper spray in schools? I can imagine it being preferable to breaking up a group of kids involved in violence instead of beatings or shooting. What do you think? The fact that the Southern Poverty Law Center has taken notice makes me think the use of pepper spray in Birmingham's schools has probably gotten Way out of line.
In a Birmingham, Alabama high school, a girl named Gloria turned around to confront
a boy who pushed her while she waited for her mother after school. When she went
up to her attacker, Gloria says
a police officer stationed in the school pulled her from behind, and shot her with
pepper spray directly in her face, mouth, and eyes
Gloria's mom, LaTonya Stearns, said seeing her daughter after she was pepper-sprayed
in school was "like a nightmare." "I couldn't believe how red and swollen her face
was," LaTonya said. "She was crying out to me to help her and I couldn't do anything."
What's incredible to LaTonya is that, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center,
nearly 200 other Birmingham students have been pepper-sprayed by police officers
in just the last 5 years
. They've been unable to find
any other school system
that allows pepper spray use this frequently for what amounts to typical teen behavior.
LaTonya thinks it's ridiculous that Birmingham schools allow police officers to use
pepper spray on students so often, so she wants to work with her city's mayor to
change the policy.
She started a petition on Change.org asking Birmingham's Mayor to work with police and school officials to stop pepper-spraying students. Click here to add your name to her petition
After she was pepper-sprayed in school, Gloria's face was red, swollen, and covered
in welts for days. The welts turned into black scabs that didn't go away for weeks.
It hurt to wash her face, as water only made the pain worse. She soon fell into deep
depression and refused to come out of her room.
"She's a teenage girl, not a criminal," said Gloria's mom, LaTonya.
Birmingham's frequent use of pepper spray against students is not a secret to the
city's mayor, school board, and police department. Local media have reported on the
city's disturbing trend, but city officials have yet to respond with a way to stop
the pepper spray attacks on students.
LaTonya wants to work with Birmingham's mayor, city council, and school officials
to make sure that Birmingham students no longer have to fear being attacked by police
officers in schools for normal teenage behavior. Your signature on LaTonya's petition
can make a difference by showing Birmingham officials that the rest of the country
is watching the city's treatment of students.
Click here to sign LaTonya's petition asking Birmingham to stop pepper-spraying students in the city's schools