Photo: Warren Durham, School Resource Officer who abused 11-year-old student
By Chancellor Davis
Last week, video surfaced online of Warren Durham, a Sheriff’s Deputy acting as a school resource officer at Vance County Middle School in North Carolina, violently slamming an 11-year-old Black student to the ground. Despite damning video footage of the assault, Durham has managed to dodge felony charges and faces at most 4 months in jail.
The video shows the officer slam the child to the ground twice before dragging him down the hall. The boy’s family has stated he was traumatized by the vicious, unprovoked attack, asking what he could have done to deserve it.
Durham has also been accused of another violent incident which happened just hours before, pushing a 12-year-old Black girl into a locker, forcing her to go the emergency room after she suffered a dislocated shoulder and severe bruising. The girl has stated in an interview that she was severely traumatized.
Durham was not reprimanded for this situation, and following his assault of the young boy Sheriff Curtis Brame claimed officer Durham “had had no incidents that raised concern.”
These cases are only examples of how the bourgeoisie oppresses the working class and oppressed nations beginning in childhood. Police officers, going by such euphemistic names as “School Resource Officers,” have for decades been a force of terror in inner city schools populated by the poorest of the working class and Black, Chicano and immigrant youth. Here, they criminalize the students, attacking them physically in some cases and starting the process of suspension, expulsion, arrest, and incarceration.
This persecution and repression within the school system maintains divisions among the working class, stratifying it among national and racial lines. The Black nation in particular has faced an onslaught of state violence in the US, carried out by its foot soldiers in law enforcement. The schools themselves have long been divided along class and racial lines, with a funding system that guarantees the most oppressed and impoverished youth receive the worst education, attend the most dilapidated schools, and face constant police surveillance and brutality from a young age.
In contrast to the brutality with which officer Durham assaulted the two students, Vance County District Attorney Mike Waters, who brought the charges forward, has declined to file felony charges. He claims that because the boy did not suffer any fractures or broken bones his injuries were not serious, and as such the law dictated lighter charges. At most, the officer will face 120 days in jail.
Bourgeois law serves bourgeois rule – this favorable adherence to the rule of law is not something afforded to the workers or to the oppressed nations. Prisons are full of people who face decades or even life sentences for minor offences such as petty theft, vandalism, and drug possession. Absence of evidence or minor legal technicalities do not stop the bourgeois justice system from punishing the working class and poor in these cases.
The violence depicted in the video of Durham’s brutality is shocking but more than that it is enraging, because it represents more than one man needlessly assaulting a child. It exemplifies the cruelty of the ruling class and the means by which it segregates society. These means cannot help but incite those on the receiving end to rebel.