Video of a violent incident involving two brothers and a school resource officer in a local high school has put the small Rhode Island town of Pawtucket on edge.
In the clip, shot on Wednesday, the officer is seen as placing handcuffs on Ivander, 17, the older of the brothers, while younger brother Tyler, 14, lingers behind the two, according to local station WPRI. The brothers' last name wasn't disclosed.
Then, in one instant, the officer turns and violently takes down Tyler with what can best be described as a WWE wrestling move.
The scene is a chilling example of the police violence that occurs inside many public schools. Advocates in the past year have raised flags about what they call the "school-to-prison pipeline," in which students are pushed into the criminal justice system for minor infractions committed at school.
Tyler said the incident started after someone stole his backpack. "I was just angry, I hit my fist on the bench – that’s it,” he told WPRI. The action prompted the security officer's response, and in the end both brothers were pepper sprayed and are now facing charges for resisting arrest, with older brother Ivander facing an extra charge of simple assault.
Police maintain that the younger brother was initially confronted because he was shouting and yelling things, and that he was punching a wall. After the confrontation began, police said, his older brother approached and began attacking the officer, which is why the officer is seen in the video attempting to place him in cuffs.
By that time, both brothers had already been pepper sprayed, they said.
“I didn’t know what to do. My eyes were blurry,” Tyler said of the moment he was taken down. “All of a sudden [the cop] comes from behind, grabs me by my neck and slams me. And puts me in hand cuffs.”
Video of the incident went viral in the town, with local TV stations reporting on it. A protest of about 100 students resulted in further unrest on Thursday, with many more students reportedly pepper sprayed by local police. An additional 10 students were arrested during the demonstration, according to police. One of them pulled the school fire alarm, and another broke a car window, they added.
Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien held a press conference about the incident on Thursday, stating that local and state police will be "conducting a full investigation of the video that we’ve all seen and the issue at hand."
At the protest, students said it was more than just the video that has gotten them angry at officials. Rather, it's a culture of heavily policing them within their own schools.
“The message is for cops to ease up on kids. We shouldn’t be treated as criminals,” said student Montrell Sivils at the protest.
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.