Police tasing of 17 year old Black Timothy Mack inside his classroom has tensions rising in this sleepy southern town, fifteen minutes north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana's capitol. The student refused to go to the principal's office to be disciplined after denying the principal's accusation that he smelled like smoke and must have been smoking. During the confrontation Mack cursed Principal Bobby Washington before going to class. Washington is also black.
Jackson Deputy Marshall R. Sanders, fifty or so white male, arrived minutes later and inflamed the situation when he ordered Mack to come outside his classroom. The cop said he was taking the student to jail. Mack refused and said he was going back to class, when the unexpected happened.
"At which point suspect (Mack) was tased (in back) and placed in hand cuffs and advised of his rights and removed from the class", Deputy Marshall Sanders said in his arrest report. Mack was briefly unconscious and taken to a local hospital and later jailed.
Tensions are high. In this majority black parish, the majority white school board voted this spring to consolidate the schools in the parish, over and against the demands of a united African-American community that schools be left alone. A federal judge recently ruled against the black group opposing the consolidation. That decision has been appealed.
Festering below the surface are tensions from consolidation decisions like who would be principal and administrators of the consolidated schools. Teachers were fired. The Board's decision to hire from outside the Parish, Bobby Washington as principal at Jackson Consolidated High is an example.
Civil rights organizations are concerned. Dr. Ernest Johnson, an attorney and president of the Louisiana NAACP said he is monitoring the tasing matter. The Feliciana Chapter of the NAACP is very involved. Its president, Rev. Emmett Collins, is busy meeting with community leaders, preparing for a series of meetings with the Parish School Board and Jackson's Town Council. There is a group organized here to stop the consolidation.
District Attorney Sam D Aquilla, prosecutor serving Louisiana's 20th Judicial District, including East and West Feliciana Parishes, said he will offer a plea bargain to Timothy Mack.
The deal, Aquilla says, will call for Timothy Mack to plead guilty to disturbing the peace and pay a fine of $25 and not to create a criminal record for Mack. The deal will call for Mack to accept expulsion from the Jackson High School and attend an alternative school in Clinton. If Mack doesn't accept the plead deal he will face charges of disturbing the peace and resisting arrest in an October 10th preliminary hearing in Clinton.
Otis Bee, Timothy Mack's father, said that if the district attorney makes the plea deal, the family is not sure what action they will take. The father has been very vocal in local media saying Timothy Mack erred cussing the principal and law enforcement officers, but claims that the police were "absolutely wrong shooting a student in school when no one was in danger". Bee charges that the incident began from "false accusations by Mr. Washington and his way of "railroading students from the school to Jackson's alternative school". Bee also says his son's expulsion is unfair.
Douglass Beauchamp Jr., superintendent of East Feliciana Parish Schools, refused to comment saying the matter was subject to litigation.
Pat Bryant may be reached via email at email@example.com. The New Orleans Agenda.com newsletter is the leading local alternative for information on News, Arts, Culture & Entertainment in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast Region.
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