Meade parents want answers on school brawl arrests

Argument over stolen cell phone on last day of class escalated into melee that left students and police injured

June 19, 2007|By Ruma Kumar | Ruma Kumar,SUN REPORTER

A group of parents plans to lodge a complaint against Anne Arundel County police, accusing officers of roughing up their children during a brawl at Meade High School.

The concerns, fueled by images of Friday's melee captured by students' cell phone cameras and posted online on MySpace.com, have spurred at least three parents to begin the paperwork to formally request an internal affairs investigation.

At least three of the 11 students who were arrested were treated at area hospitals for gashes and bruises on their backs, arms and legs, parents said, while police said five officers suffered minor injuries, but none required hospitalization.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in Tuesday's Maryland section incorrectly attributed comments to Anne Arundel County school board member Ned Carey. He did not mention North County High School as an alternative site for a proposed math-and-science magnet program around Fort Meade. Other school board members have raised North County High as a potential site for the magnet program.

Parents said yesterday they don't feel safe sending their children back to the school, which has sought to rehabilitate a poor public image. Meade has wrestled with discipline problems and low student performance, which it blames on the high mobility of military families.

Jewel Beauford said her daughter, Stacie, an 18-year-old rising senior at the school, was unnecessarily arrested after she tried to flee from the chaotic scene in the gym.

Beauford said her daughter was stopped by an administrator who asked her to hurry to class. A plainclothes policeman who saw the two speaking in raised voices, Beauford said, came up from behind, forced Stacie to the ground, pinned her to the floor with his knee on her back and handcuffed her, saying she had resisted arrest.

"This has absolutely traumatized my daughter," Beauford said. "She has problems in school. She has a mouth, has attitude, isn't perfect. But for her to be thrown to the ground when she was trying to get away and get back to class. I just want answers. How could this happen?"

Beauford was one of at least five parents who showed up at the school at 7 a.m. yesterday to talk to Principal Daryl Kennedy. They left without answers, two parents said later.

Kennedy did not return a call for comment yesterday.

Cpl. Mark Shawkey, a county police spokesman, said the investigation into the fight is continuing and declined to comment about alleged injuries to students.

"We have no evidence to that effect," he said.

According to a police statement, two students began arguing over a stolen cell phone about 9:40 a.m., during a break between exams on the last day of classes. Police broke the scuffle up, partly thanks to an already beefed-up security presence at all Anne Arundel high schools to handle possible end-of-the-year conflicts.

But, according to student witnesses, the fight erupted again, and didn't die down. The five officers at the school called for backup. Within minutes, dozens of officers from the army post, the National Security Agency, the sheriff's office and the county Police Department worked to defuse the unrest.

"We saw officers throwing kids down on the floor, like, really slamming them down hard, and cuffing them," said Kiasten Moore, a rising junior, who said she saw it all unfold.

Her brother, Omari Moore, took cell phone pictures and video of what he saw.

"Everyone started getting angry with the cops for treating the students like that, so someone threw a can, and then a chair, and it was completely out of control after that," said Omari, a rising senior.

"This is a good school. Our track team just won state [championships], and now something like this happens, and it just takes us back to everyone in the community thinking we're bad," Omari said.

ruma.kumar@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.