Jaeah Lee

Reporter

Jaeah reports, writes, codes, and charts at Mother Jones. Her writings have appeared in The Atlantic, the Guardian, WiredChristian Science Monitor, Global Post, Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, and Grist. She was a 2013-14 Middlebury fellow in environmental journalism. Her work has been named a finalist in the Data Journalism Awards. In a former life, she researched and wrote about China at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Top Cop Union Threatens Quentin Tarantino

| Fri Nov. 6, 2015 2:36 PM EST
Quentin Tarantino at a New York City protest against police brutality, October 24.

Amid the continuing national debate about policing, Thursday brought the latest batshit PR move from police union leaders. Their current target, Quentin Tarantino, found himself on the receiving end of a veiled threat when Jim Pasco, the head of the national Fraternal Order of Police, told reporters that "something is in the works" against the Hollywood filmmaker. The union's plan, Pasco said, "could happen any time" between now and the premiere of Tarantino's upcoming film, The Hateful Eight, on Christmas Day. Just what exactly did he mean? More from the Hollywood Reporter:

Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, would not go into any detail about what is being cooked up for the Hollywood director, but he did tell THR: "We'll be opportunistic."

"Tarantino has made a good living out of violence and surprise," says Pasco. "Our offices make a living trying to stop violence, but surprise is not out of the question."

The FOP, based in Washington, D.C., consists of more than 330,000 full-time, sworn officers. According to Pasco, the surprise in question is already "in the works," and will be in addition to the standing boycott of Tarantino's films, including his upcoming movie The Hateful Eight.

"Something is in the works, but the element of surprise is the most important element," says Pasco. "Something could happen anytime between now and [the premiere]. And a lot of it is going to be driven by Tarantino, who is nothing if not predictable.

"The right time and place will come up and we'll try to hurt him in the only way that seems to matter to him, and that's economically," says Pasco.

When asked, Pasco clarified that he was not making a violent threat. But his vow that "we'll try to hurt him" joins a growing list of over-the-top statements from police union leaders.

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Disturbing Video Shows School Cop Body Slam and Drag a Black Female Student

| Mon Oct. 26, 2015 4:58 PM EDT

Authorities in Richland County, South Carolina, are investigating a video that surfaced Monday showing a uniformed officer aggressively confronting a high school student. Local station WIS-TV reports that county sheriff's deputies are investigating the incident, which took place on Monday at Spring Valley High School, according to school officials. The video, which appears to have been recorded on a cellphone by a classmate, shows a white male officer standing over a black female student sitting at her desk; moments later he grabs the student and flips her on her back. After dragging her across the floor, the officer says, "Hands behind your back—give me your hands." The video has no additional context as to what led to or followed the altercation.

"Parents are heartbroken as this is just another example of the intolerance that continues to be of issue in Richland County School District Two, particularly with families and children of color," a local black parents group wrote in a statement responding to the video.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told WIS-TV that the school resource officer (SRO) was responding to a student who was refusing to leave class. "The student was told she was under arrest for disturbing school and given instructions, which she again refused," Lott said. "The video then shows the student resisting and being arrested by the SRO."

The video is the latest in a series of disturbingly violent altercations involving school cops. As Mother Jones first reported in July, there have been at least 29 incidents in the United States since 2010 in which school-based police officers used questionable force against students in K-12 schools, many of which caused serious injuries, and in one case death. Data on use of force by school cops is lacking even as the number of officers on campus has ballooned over the past two decades, with little training or oversight.

Update, 6:15 p.m. EDT: Here is a statement released by the school district, via local TV reporter Megan Rivers:

Update, October 27, 2015, 1:30 p.m. EDT: US Department of Justice and FBI officials in South Carolina announced on Tuesday that they have opened a federal investigation into Monday's incident.   

Update, October 28, 2015, 1:36 p.m. EDT: Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced on Wednesday that the officer in the video, identified as deputy sheriff Ben Fields, was fired from his post. Lott and school district leaders have criticized the violent encounter. Lott said he did not think race played a role in the incident, explaining that the deputy had dated an African American woman for "quite some time." He also said the student in the video should be held responsible for disturbing the classroom, though her behavior did not justify what the deputy did.

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