Edison High School Pepper Spray Incident, My Thoughts

Last Wednesday, April 22, 2009, I walked into The kNOw meeting to hear my friends talking about an incident that happened earlier that day at my high school, Edison. I had no idea, so I was surprised when I heard it was an incident involving two police officers that used pepper spray on two students.

First, a riot between students, then a grade-change issue, and now, an alleged police brutality? Is that all that Edison is about? We aren’t just ghetto students in a ghetto school in a ghetto part of town.

The pepper spray incident happened right after school on Wednesday. When I walked into class the next morning, all I kept hearing was the cruelty of the officers and the unfair treatment towards the two students who were arrested.

I felt confused and curious. So as I was getting ready to ask my third period teacher if he knew anything about the incident, I heard the principal’s voice come through the loudspeaker. He said a meeting concerning the incident would be taking place after school. I felt some relief. I knew I was not the only one who had questions.

Sixth period ended and I was out the door and into the cafeteria where the meeting was to take place. Inside, there were over a 150 people gathered, students, staff, and parents. The two officers involved in the incident were not present at the meeting. I thought they were going to be there to help make everything clear to the students.

There was an officer speaking who I later learned was Deputy Chief Keith Foster. Many concerned students asked questions but he didn’t really answer them. The students seemed really frustrated when their questions weren’t answered. I was frustrated as well! [pullquote_right]I came to the conclusion that the police officers who are supposed to help make schools safer don’t seem to have a connection or understanding of the students they are dealing with on a day to day basis.[/pullquote_right]

Deputy Chief Foster told the students that the forum was not to answer questions but to help the students be heard. Seeing my fellow peers ask questions over and over made me sad to see that the meeting was somewhat helpless.

I also heard Deputy Chief Foster mention something about Edison’s publicity and not wanting to make it even more negative than it already is. Many people seemed offended by that comment. Most of the time when Edison is in the news it’s either negative stuff or the really, really, really good stuff about Edison (all the “academics”). On that very same day, there was a Career Fair at Edison as well but no one thought that was important enough to at least be mentioned.

It frustrated me more when Deputy Chief Foster said he hadn’t even read the police report on the incident! So he practically didn’t know anything about the details of what happened but he is searching for witnesses! Disappointed and sad I came to the conclusion that the police officers who are supposed to help make schools safer don’t seem to have a connection or understanding of the students they are dealing with on a day to day basis.

I went to the meeting to try and learn what went on in the incident but sadly I didn’t leave the meeting with any new knowledge. Instead I heard it from my peers. Several classmates told me that the incident started because of a dress code violation. The officer stopped the student due to his saggy pants and cap. The student pulled up his pants but the pants fell right back down as before. The officer got frustrated and tried to take the student by the arm but the student resisted and pulled back, telling the officer not to touch him like that.

The officer again attempted to get the student, but the student’s brother jumpin in trying to pull his brother away from the officer. Then out of nowhere another on-campus officer came in and sprayed both students with pepper spray. From what I heard the officer sprayed multiple times even when the students were down and stumbling. The students were handcuffed and one of them was booked into jail.

Sadly over a small dress code violation, one of the students might lose his scholarship to the University of Oregon.

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

Related Posts