BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A federal judge denied a motion by the Birmingham Police Department to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) challenging the use of pepper spray on Birmingham schoolchildren – a ruling that allows the case to move forward.
“We are pleased with the court’s decision to deny the city’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit,” said Ebony Howard, SPLC staff attorney and juvenile justice policy specialist. “We stand behind the merits of this case and believe the students will prevail in court. The Birmingham Police Department continues to put children’s lives at risk by subjecting them to pepper spray. Our lawsuit challenges this harmful practice and demands humane treatment for all children in Birmingham schools.”
A copy of the court ruling can be viewed at: http://sp.lc/bhmM3ce.
The ruling comes just a week after more than 50 students were doused with pepper spray at Jackson-Olin High School as police reportedly responded to a fight between students.
The SPLC filed a federal class action lawsuit in 2010 on behalf of current and future students in the city’s public school system. The lawsuit alleges that the Birmingham Police Department violated the constitutional rights of students through an abusive policy that allowed officers stationed in the schools to use chemical weapons against students to enforce basic school discipline.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Alabama with offices in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi, is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society. For more information, see www.splcenter.org.