WASHINGTON — A powerful, first of its kind online tool has been created to track violence in our schools. The Alliance for Educational Justice unveiled an assault map Tuesday that tracks police violence against black and brown students across the U.S.
Over the years, violent moments between school resource officers and students have been captured on video. But Tuesday, several D.C. civil rights organizations say they are giving power back to students.
Desmond Cole is 19 and lives in Southeast, D.C. He says he will forever remember a school resource officer pinning another student to the ground.
"It really puts the student in an inmate mentality, avoid the officer, stay out of the way and that isn't how students should have to live," Cole said.
Youth activists Tuesday suggested that instead of having SRO's, more counselors or mental health clinics could be put into communities.
The new web site wecametolearn.com has an interactive assault map, documenting alleged assaults between school resource officers and students across the United States since 2009.
Advancement Project National Office and Alliance for Educational Justice say assaults in schools have been vastly under reported. Oftentimes the groups say assaults only surface when students take videos of the assaults.
In Maryland, D.C. and Virginia, the map shows four assaults, from a case in 2013, where an officer is accused of praying then punching a student in the face in Suitland, Maryland. And then the very next year, video shows a Baltimore City school resource officer using a baton on three black girls.
But across the DMV, school systems have credited school resource officers with building meaningful relationships with students. And just last year, Officer Blaine Gaskill was hailed a hero and credited with saving lives after he confronted a shooter at Great Mills High School in St. Mary's County, Maryland.
The civil rights groups have also added a button so that students can easily report assaults. Here is how the groups say they will responsibly vet assault claims:
In the past, we have received information from grassroots organizations and there has been some sort of confirmation of the incident – media coverage, video footage, and so on – for us to rely on. Moving forward, we will vet submissions to our #AssaultAt map on a case by case basis and continue working to ensure the highest level of credibility for all incidents published on the map.