This Louisiana teacher asked the school board for something, and it all went horribly wrong
"I want change to come from this," Deyshia Hargrave
In a school board meeting gone horribly wrong, a Louisiana school- teacher was forcibly removed from a school board hearing and handcuffed violently by a sergeant on Monday.
The horrific incident took place in Vermilion Parish School District, St, Abbeville, Louisiana and in a video now gone viral, the victim Deyshia Hargrave, a middle school English teacher, is seen getting handcuffed and dragged out of the meeting by a town marshal. The man has been identified as Reggie Hilts. The incident happened on Monday night after she stood up to voice her distress regarding a contract that would give a raise to the district’s top administrator.
During the public comments period, Hargrave was asked to shush up by school board officials. Reluctantly, she obeyed the order. Later again, when she asked another question, the marshal asked her to leave.
To her shock, when Hargrave left the room and reached the hallway, the marshall pushed her to the ground and handcuffed her. Court documents suggest she spent several hours in police custody before paying a bond to be released.
#DeyshiaHargrave - As a teacher, I feel for her. As a woman, I feel for her. A takeaway here is that this foregrounds the fear the financially-bloated top must be feeling when called out in public by the underpaid servants of education.— Saudade70 (@saudade70) 9 January 2018
“What are you doing, can you explain!” Hargrave shrieked as the officer picked her up from the floor and handcuffed her, dragging her towards the exit and commanding her to 'stop resisting'.
"I am not, you just pushed me to the floor!" Hargrave yelled back.
Watch the video and decide for yourself who's the wrongdoer here:
Death threats, support, and condemnation
School superintendent Jerome Puyau, whose potential pay raise was the bone of contention between Hargrave and the board members, responded to the controversy by clarifying that no charges were filed by him or the board against Hargrave.
"It is time that we brought to the board a salary that's commensurate with what superintendents are making," Puyau said, as reported by CBS news.
As reported by New York Times, since 2012, Puyau has been making $110,000 per year, according to two board members. With the new contract that was approved, he could earn $38,000 more. In 2016, the average Louisiana teacher's salary was around $49,000—a clear demarcation between the salaries earned by teachers and the school
Two board members also commented about how the new contract for Puyau give him the opportunity to earn more while the board hasn't raised teacher salaries once in more than a decade.
Hargrave was booked with the charge of 'remaining after being forbidden' and 'resisting an officer', according to Ike Funderburk, Abbeville’s city attorney, and prosecutor.
Interestingly, both charges can be levied by a marshal and do not require the school board’s involvement. But Ike as well as the lawyer for the school board, Mr. Funderburk decided not to pursue the charges, as reported by New York Times.
Post the incident, the school board members have also been getting death threats from all across the world. According to CBS news, the threats have come from as far away as South America, Australia, and England, as well as other U.S. states, Vermilion Parish School Board President Anthony Fontana told The Advertiser newspaper on Tuesday.
Hargrave, who is an English teacher for fifth- and sixth-grade students at Rene A. Rost Middle School in Vermilion Parish on the southern Louisiana coast, returned to school on Tuesday, after being bonded out of jail on Tuesday morning, as reported by The Guardian.
After her release, she recorded a video statement where she stated how she was "appalled by this," and urged others to "be too.”
“Please don’t let the conversation end with me,” Ms. Hargrave said. “Please go to your local school board meetings. Speak out, be vocal.”
It is unclear if the marshal was acting on his own accord or on the orders of board members, however, a massive backlash erupted on social media as well as on the streets which called out the school authorities for the use of violence against a teacher.
In a statement released, Jane Johnson, the interim executive director of the A.C.L.U. of Louisiana, expressed her displeasure at the treatment meted out to Hargrave. “Deyshia Hargrave’s expulsion from a public meeting and subsequent arrest are unacceptable and raise serious constitutional concerns. The Constitution prohibits the government from punishing or retaliating against people for expressing their views, and the fact that a schoolteacher was arrested at a public meeting of the school board is especially troubling.”
John Bel Edwards, the Louisiana governor, said on Wednesday that the arrest was 'terribly unfortunate,' according to The Times-Picayune.
What’s up in Vermilion Parish schools? Superintendent Jerome Puyau is getting a large pay raise when teachers/employees haven’t received raises for years. When Deyshia Hargrave, a local teacher points this out, she gets REMOVED IN HANDCUFFS? #TimesUp #Puyau— TRT (@TeaRoadTiger) 9 January 2018
Who is Reggie Hilts?
The officer, responsible for causing all the furor, Reggie Hilts, has drawn intense scrutiny after the video of him handcuffing Hargrave went viral.
According to New York Times, a lawsuit filed in 2012 stated Hilts, who is a pastor at a local church and married with two children, along with another officer in Scott, Louisiana, were accused of using uncurbed force against a 62-year-old man.
The lawsuit further stated that Hilts banged the petitioner's head on the concrete slab after being arrested in the year 2011. The man, a hepatitis-C patient was 'in a very weakened physical condition because of chronic cirrhosis of the liver,' according to the lawsuit.
At the time of the incident, the officers denied using excessive force, saying the man had resisted arrest during a dispute over his lawn. The suit was settled in 2016, according to The Associated Press.
But coincidently, the same vein of thought runs in the Hargrave row too with Hilts demanding Hargrave to stop resisting, as seen in the video. But clearly, Hargrave wasn't resisting in any which way.
The officer who arrested Deyshia Hargrave needs to be suspended pending review. This is an incredible abuse of power. Officer R. Hilts of the Abbeville City Police/School Resource Officer is a disgrace to the police who were sworn to protect and serve. Deyshia did NOTHING wrong. pic.twitter.com/iZ24YsHFYx— Michael Stenberg (@MichaelStenberg) 9 January 2018
Is violence on the rise? Are teacher demands not being sufficiently met? What do you think?
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