Spring Valley is a documentary about the ethics of using SRO’s (School Resource Officers) in American schools, particularly focussing on one incident in Spring Valley High School in South Carolina in 2015.
An incident where a black teenage girl was forcefully removed from her seat and thrown to the ground simply for refusing to leave the class. The documentary talks to people from all sides, including Shakara, the girl who was assaulted and Officer Ben Fields who assaulted her.
Talking to Officer Ben Fields, at first it may seem like the documentary is siding with him to tell his story and set the record straight. However, the more he talks the more it seems that his refusal to take blame and accept responsibility may be a small part of a wider issue. Not only an issue among the police, but among white America.
In fact, the fact that Officer Fields had even agreed to be a part of the documentary shows a certain kind of arrogance as he constantly maintains that he did no wrong, despite the evidence of the contrary. Through discussions with Officer Fields and Black Lives Matter activists, there’s an attempt to try and show him what he did was wrong and that he should accept responsibility and this comes across well.
It not only shows how Officer Fields feels about what he thinks is right, but it also shows how other white people may completely ignorant of institutional racism as it’s just not been questioned in such an open way as it has been recently.
Spring Valley also talks about the history of South Carolina, from the slave trade and the Confederate flag which a lot of people still hold onto fiercely, despite its connotations with racism. It shows that society may have instilled racism into the blood of certain white Americans and that it can be very hard to change their minds. Especially when some consider they’ve done no wrong. Spring Valley shows that even in a post-Trump era, America still has a long way to go to reverse the damage caused by institutional racism.
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