On August 12, 2008, an argument broke out between three students on a Mississippi school bus. Rather than attempting to defuse the situation by separating the students, the bus monitor called the police and ordered the driver to pull the bus over to the side of the road. In an egregious example of excessive and unwarranted use of force, the police who arrived on the scene responded by arresting a half-dozen black students, choking and tackling a black female student, and threatening to shoot the 30 students on the bus between their eyes.
In April of 2009, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Mississippi filed a federal civil rights lawsuit charging Southaven police and DeSoto County school officials with assaulting and racially discriminating against the group of schoolchildren.
This lawsuit is the first of three federal civil rights lawsuits filed by the ACLU against school and police officials in DeSoto County, Mississippi since April 2008. Taken together, the lawsuits reveal a systemic pattern of arbitrary and unlawful conduct by school and police officials and highlight the disturbing national trend known as the school-to-prison-pipeline, wherein children are pushed out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. All too often, as all three ACLU lawsuits show, children of color are disproportionately targeted by such policies.
This case has since been resolved.