By Dr. John E. Warren – Publisher
Much has been said in recent weeks about the incident at Lincoln High School which left a number of students arrested and a school police officer injured and hospitalized for a brief period. Meetings have been held with the San Diego Unified School District Superintendent, the District Attorney, the San Diego Police, parents, pastors and members of the community as well as school gatherings by students and discussion groups concerning both the school and the image that some might have of it. There is a video tape that many say could clear up the matter, but it has not been released to the general public by order of the Judge of the Juvenile Court. Parents of the students involved have been permitted to see the tape and this is important since juvenile matters may not be viewed in court other than by family and counsel of the youth involved.
Since the incident, several persons have come forth with comments and information about the school police officer involved. During a recent press conference, Dr. Andre Branch, president of the San Diego NAACP Chapter said the officer involved has a history of provoking confrontation, overreacting and summoning an overwhelming police force; that he is involved in use of his Taser in two of the three Taser incidents on record with children since use was implemented in 2008/2009 school year for school police officers.
While there is a very strong desire on the part of the community and family of the youth involved not to see them placed in the criminal justice system behind this incident, there also exists the dual concern that students respect authority, while expecting authority to respect students.
The positions of The San Diego Voice & Viewpoint, having hearing discussion from all sides, is that: (1) THE NAACP was premature in its call for actions before all the facts are known. If the Courts are forced to release information that would not be done in a juvenile case, then such action could result in the courts treating the juveniles as adults which could lead to felony charges that might not otherwise have been charged; (2) the community is not in a position to force the court’s action in matters that are confidential by law. But the community does have the right to file complaints with the Commission on Judicial Tenure against the Judge if his actions are perceived as wrong against these youth.
Lincoln High School is a good school with fine students and many good things at work. It is hoped that this unfortunate incident will have the good benefit of bringing more resources, support and community involvement to the school and that this time such assistance will not be rejected as it often has been in the past. We need freedom and help for our youth, corrective action where necessary without police force and cool heads until such time as all the facts are known.