An advocate says black students fighting are treated differently by officers

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Geraldine Alshamy asserts that black students are treated differently by officers.

Geraldine Alshamy sees the headline-grabbing video out of Rolesville High as more evidence of an argument she's been making for years: That minority students are treated differently when it comes to discipline.

Alshamy is one of the local activists who filed a federal civil rights complaint against Wake County schools three years ago, charging that school resource officers use excessive force against minority students.

The 9-second video posted on Twitter on Tuesday shows Rolesville police officer Ruben De Los Santos lifting a 15-year old student into the air and dropping the girl onto the floor.

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"He body-slammed her," Alshamy said, watching the video. "He literally body-slammed her. I think that is excessive force."

"(There is a) culture that's validated in the schools that these are terrible children, particularly when they're African-American or poor children," Alshamy says. "When (SROs) see children who are fighting viciously like those children, and it's not like all children don't do it, it's just when they see black children do this, something changes in (their minds) -- they lose control."

ABC11 watched the Rolesville video with Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison. Twenty of Harrison's deputies work as SROs across the school district. They are all bound by an agreement with the school district that says use of force by officers "must be reasonable and not excessive."

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"We're law enforcement officers, whether it's a fight in a school, or in a bar, or on the street, we have to handle it the same," Harrison said.

But Alshamy argues it's not the same -- that these are teenage students, not criminals.

"If you haven't had some training and some practice, you're going to react like you would with somebody on the street and that's what happened with that officer," Alshamy said.

This long-time advocate for Wake County parents is calling for more effective training for school resource officers, including programs dealing with implicit racial bias.

Wake County school administrators say they are reviewing the district's agreement with local law enforcement agencies.

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educationwake county schoolsraleigh newsschool fightrace relationsstudent safetyRaleighRolesvilleWake Forest
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