PBS Online Film Festival



Two boys in trouble at school face a racist high school administration.

AIRED: July 13, 2020 | 0:08:55

- [Receptionist] She'll be right with you.

- [Destiny] Thank you.


- [Imani] Hey.

- They called you too?

How you doin'?

- Not so good.

- I thought I was just here to pick up Gordon.

Did they tell you what this was about?

- No.


- That Salim, he has it coming.

(bell rings)

- After you.

Mrs. Salim, Miss Williams, thanks so much

for coming in on such short notice.

This is officer-

- [Officer] I'm the School Resource Officer.

- Salim and Gordon are across the hall,

but I wanted to get a chance to talk to you first.

We've just been having trouble with them,

especially when they're together.

Based on today's incident,

we need to address this behavior as a team.

- The officers saw the individuals smoking marijuana

outside of the school.

The fleeing individuals were pursued-

- They have names.

- Are you talking about Salim?

- [Miss Newman] Yes.

- The officers found them inside of the classroom

and asked them to step into the hallway

so that they could search their pockets.

- And they just weren't listening

and they were creating a big commotion.

You and I have discussed this before, Miss Williams.

- [Officer] They were being defiant,

causing a ruckus in the classroom,

which is when we used chemical spray

to subdue the individuals.

- Chemical spray? - What? No!

I need to see Gordon.

- Gordon and Salim are safe.

- No no no, - You said they used

chemical spray, - were they able

to take care of them themselves?

- How were they safe? - I mean they're only 15!

- Can we bring this down?

- Yeah, but have you let them go outside-

- Can we bring this down, please.

- To get air or get water-

- Look, look, possession of marijuana

isn't just breaking a school rule.

It's also a serious offense under the law.

- You found marijuana on them?

- [Officer] We found a lighter.

- So, no?

- The officers saw them smoking outside of the school.

- But how did they know that they were smoking marijuana?

- Well they saw them smoking a substance

from their patrol car.

- It sounds like they assumed they were smoking weed,

because they were black, and then they ran after them-

- [Officer] That's not what happened.

- And then they maced them.

- That's a serious accusation.

I've been assistant principal here for 12 years!

You can't just say that.

We treat our students as equals.

- [Officer] This cannot be an excuse

to condone bad behavior.

They were mouthing off, they were out of control!

- Were they resisting arrest?

- Salim and Gordon can be charged

with disorderly conduct for today's incident.

- [Destiny] Wait, are you the law enforcement?

- We responded with a procedure and took them

to the main office! - Miss Newman, I'm sorry,

can we talk about like you said

how we can just address this in the future?

- [Miss Newman] Yes, yes, as I was saying,

this is becoming a pattern.

And when these boys are together

they tend to make poor decisions,

so I need you to impress upon them

that there are consequences for-

- Where were they maced?

- [Miss Newman] And that they can't,

they're not exempt from-

- Miss Newman, where were they maced?

- There was a safety concern.

It happened right out there in the hallway.

And let me be perfectly clear, I did not enjoy seeing that.

- This all could've been avoided

had they been taught a little bit of respect.

- Where were they put in handcuffs?

- Outside of their classroom

after they were being disruptive.

- So they were in cuffs when you maced them?

(phone rings)

- The use of chemical spray is a completely reasonable

response to the situation.

- I'm going to need to see the videos

from the security camera.

- We're not at liberty to share that.

- [Destiny] Why not?

- [Miss Newman] It's privacy concern.

- A privacy-


- Principal Walker would like to have a word with you.

- I'll be back shortly.

- How many police officers were involved

in the incident?

(door closes)

How convenient.

- You're not helping.

- You know, I don't know

if Gordon is gonna walk in here with a swollen lip,

or a busted eye,

or if they threw him against the wall.

Why am I the only one raising hell here?

- Well, what are you trying to accomplish?

- I don't know, but they can't just do this!

- I have friends who are lawyers.

I can figure something out.

- I can't just do that.

Go to court, I can't afford to do that.

- Oh my god, I don't care!

I have my brother's back, okay?

- You don't- (thumping)

You don't understand.

- No.

- I don't have my papers.

(door opens)

- [Miss Newman] So we've decided not to press charges,

but Gordon and Salim are suspended

until the end of the week,

and you will have to peronsally

bring them in on Monday,

at which time we will discuss an action plan.

And hey, we don't want another next time, okay?

- [Woman] So if you find yourself in a stressful situation,

just take a deep breath. (exhaling)

- Destiny!

Thank you.

- I didn't do nothing.

- I know.


- What were you thinking?

Well, are you okay?

- My face is on fire.

- You know, I had to tell Gordon's sister about me.

- Why?

Mom, I'm sorry.

I'm sorry.

- I don't want you hanging out with Gordon anymore.

Close the door.

Close the door!

(door closes)

(upbeat music)


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