Sunday, December 13, 2009

Teacher punishes 7yr old Black child by cutting off one of her braids in class.

This comes from Rippa, who has a keen sense of injustice and absurdity, at the Intersection of Madness and Reality Blog. Although this blog focuses on police brutality (and atrocity), it's really about manifestly unequal justice in the United States of America. A black person would be burned at the stake (charged with assault and battery and spend three or four years in jail) for cutting off a white child's blond locks, but the teacher in this case was merely given a ticket for "disorderly conduct," says Rippa. That's unequal justice in the law enforcement system and that concerns the Police Brutality Blog.

The worst thing in the world is the possible loss of innocence of a child at the hand of an adult. I just read the story of 7 year-old Lamya Cammon in Milwaukee, WI and now I'm left to wonder just how this would impact her life as she moves forward from this incident:

OK, first off, I watched another video on the story and Lamya said the teacher told her to come to her desk to get some candy and then cut her braid. I'm sorry, but that negates the whole "I'm sorry, but I was stressed out," bullshit claim. Sure she may have been bothered by what this kid was doing with her hair. But it's quite apparent that she put some thought into just how she was going to "punish" Lamaya, so miss me with that bullshit teacher lady. Yes I understand that the teaching profession is a thankless job. But damn maybe this woman needs to re-evaluate her career choice and go to barber school instead.

Secondly, what the fuck is up with the District Attorney not filing charges on this teacher? Yep, why did it take the police the department to hold her accountable via a ticket for disorderly conduct? And further, why in the hell does this teacher still employed? Why not at least paid administrative leave? What's next? Does she have to put a gun to a students head before someone decides to take action or lord forbid hold her accountable for her actions? I don't know what in the world is going on in Milwaukee and these District Attorneys. Apparently this is no big deal to them as is being a state social worker and tricking your client into having sex just so that she can keep her kids. Intersection of Madness and Reality Blog.
As I said over the The Intersection of Madness and Reality

If this were my child, I'd circulate a petition demanding the teacher's dismissal to get the community involved.

Legally, I'd file civil claims against the teacher for assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress, not only on behalf of my child, but joining all of the willing Black and white children in the class as plaintiffs, and with the school principal, the superintendent and the city as defendants.

It seems to me that this teacher also may have committed the crime of false imprisonment, since she had to hold the child against her will, with no legal authority or justification for doing so, while the teacher was cutting off the child's braid. This is also assault with a deadly weapon, since a foot, a boot and a pair of scissors can all constitute deadly weapons in some US jurisdictions.

I agree (without knowing) that this was most likely a white teacher; cutting of one of her braids was an act of color-aroused violence. Even if the teacher had brown skin, cutting of the child's braid could be an act of color-aroused violence, since no Black teacher would ever, ever, dare to cut off a white child's blond hair. The teacher engaged in this behavior with a Black child because she thought she could get away with it with little or no punishment. She might ultimately prove to be right, depending on the determination of the parents and the community, as well as the police, district attorney, judges and others.

To put pressure on the city, the school system, the principal and the teacher, I would request that police pursue assault and battery charges. Did the teacher take the braid from the child? If so, then she also may have committed the crime of robbery, taking a belonging from the child by force without the intention of returning it to her. In fact, this could easily be characterized as "assault with a deadly weapon" (the scissors) and armed robbery, since the teacher was armed with scissors when she took the child's braid.

So, even if the teacher was Black the crime may have been motivated, at least in part, by the knowledge that the teacher could act this way with impunity when dealing with a Black child. Even if the skin colors of the teacher and child were similar, that might not necessarily preclude a discrimination claim, since Black people can discriminate against other Blacks.

I would file a police report about an armed (the scissors) assault and battery and robbery (the braid cut off) with my child as the victim, and I would include the names of all of the children in the class as potential witnesses.

The police must at least accept and process the request that charges be filed, even if the DA does not ultimately seek charges.

When the principal, the superintendent and the city fail to fire the teacher and allow her to potentially continue such behavior, they become complicit in and ratify, in my opinion, the color-aroused treatment of Black children in this school.

I would also be willing to bet that there is statistical evidence that Black children in this teacher's classroom don't do as well as whites. That's not an argument that federal courts have been interested in over the past twenty years, but nonetheless such evidence would put added pressure on the school system.

It seems to me that the parents of this child would have to exhaust their administrative remedies before filing a discrimination and assault and battery case in federal court, so they should immediately file formal complaints with the school system, the city and/or Human Relations/Equal Opportunity commission, otherwise the doors to federal court may be closed to them. Nonetheless, they might get a quick and symbolic win in Federal Court by requesting a restraining order requiring that the child be placed in a different class, receive child psychological intervention, and new braids that would rectify, to the extent possible, the damage done to the child's hairstyle and her self-esteem.

Is this an example of the USA's antagonism toward Black people's natural hair styles? Would the teacher have cut off this girl's hair if it were long and straight? Was the teacher antagonistically color-aroused by the beads in the child's hair, in the way that whites reacted negatively at first to Venus and Serena Williams' braids and beads?

Even if the teacher was Black, I would be interested to know if she had cut off the long straight hair of white students in the past.

Since seeing a child brutalized in this way by a teacher who has control over ALL of the children is an inherently emotionally distressful event.

I'm not a practicing lawyer, but this question could easily appear on a law school torts final exam (bad, unlawful acts). The exam would ask law students what the various causes of action were, who the potential plaintiffs were and who the potential defendants were. In Civil Procedure, they would ask where the potential causes of action should be filed (what the forum court would be, whether state, federal, or both, and against whom, and what filings would be required within the next months in order to maintain the child plaintiff's right to file.

The parents are also potential plaintiffs with intentional infliction of emotional distress claims, since it was certainly foreseeable that the child would return home, tell her account to her parents, and her parents would become sick to their stomachs.

I would advise that the child be taken immediately to a child psychiatrist (psychiatrists are doctors with more training than psychologists, so they serve as better expert witnesses) and the psychiatrist would provide treatment for the child as necessary and write an analysis for the courts of the psychological effect(s) this has had, is having, and will have on this child in the future.

In order to have a chance at success with intentional infliction of emotional distress claims with the parents as the victims, the parents should also immediately see psychiatrists and continue to do so as this case works it way through courts, since their visits to a psychiatrist are an indication of the seriousness of the psychiatric harm and also prepare for expert testimony by their psychiatrist.

I'm not practicing law anymore, but this is what I would do if it were my child.

To put additional pressure on the school system, I would seek to depose every child in the class as a potential witness. That would get parents involved and furious at the school system.

1 comment:

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