GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A large group of activists and protesters filled a lot of seats at Thursday night's Gwinnett County School Board meeting. They were calling for the resignation of a couple of school resource police officers they claim crossed the line in quelling a school fight. But a representative with the school district said their claims are unfounded and wonders why the case is just now being brought to their attention.
“Counselors not cops, counselors not cops,” was the chant from the large crowd gathered outside headquarters of the Gwinnett County Public Schools District. Most were members of the Dignity in Schools Campaign which is having a national conference in Atlanta this weekend. They were in attendance to support a local group Gwinnett SToPP, School To Prison Pipeline, on a claim a couple of school resource officers at South Gwinnett High used excessive force.
“I’m here tonight to demand a full investigation into the excessive use of force out in South Gwinnett High School,” said Marlyn Tillman with SToPP.
Tillman said she gathered information from eyewitnesses who claimed a couple students were “beefing” arguing with each other when school police arrived.
“The SRO's came on the scene and came in very heavy handed. One was grabbing kids and hand cuffing them,” said Tillman.
She and others claimed the officers crossed the line in the handling of the incident, sending the wrong message to students.
“We’re teaching them you deal with violence with more violence and that's what they did. I want a full investigation of this incident and I want the officers fired,” said Tillman.
Bernard Watson, the spokesman for the school district, wondered why it took so long for the incident to come to light.
“It's been two and half since this incident happened and since that time we have not had a single inquiry a single request a single complaint about the events that happened that day,” said Watson.
He said the district reviewed the video, talked to administrators and the officers involved and came to a conclusion.
“There is no indication no proof no evidence that these officer acted inappropriately, There was no excessive force. There was no police abuse,” said Watson.
The students involved in the incident or their parents were not present for the protest or the meeting. Protest organizers said they have their right to privacy.