In the aftermath of a mass brawl involving upwards of 300 students, one would probably expect a few suspensions to be handed down. However, one of those suspensions is raising a few eyebrows. Because this particular student wasn’t actually involved in the fight…they simply documented it.
The fight, which happened last week at Arsenal Tech High School, made national news. 13 students were taken into custody at least 7 were injured.
Arsenal Tech student, Tamia Murray, saw the unrest, and decided to document the event by streaming it on Facebook live. According to her interview with WRTV, Tamia was called to the principal’s office and given a three-day suspension for recording the fight. She claims that her principal took issue with not only her recording of the fight, but her “telling the news” as well.
Unsurprisingly, her suspension has been questioned by both her mother and other members of the community.
In defense of the school, recording a fight is explicitly stated as a violation of Indianapolis Public School’s code of conduct. It is listed as a level 3 offense that could possibly rise to a level 4.
However, a three-day suspension still seems like overkill given the enormity of the event that took place at the school. It’s one thing to seek out or instigate a fight then record it. It’s another thing to document a virtual riot breaking out on campus around you.
Additionally, if the Principal really made comments about talking to the news in the conversation as Murray claims, then the suspension was more about punishing her for bad press as opposed to enforcing the rule. Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook were lit up with videos from the fight. It’s hard to believe that Tech tracked down every student who shared a snap or video of the events that happened that day.
Finally, at a certain point you have to ask, “Did Murray actually do the right thing?” Maybe she should have recorded what was going on. The community has a right to know, and her video is how many people found out. And if Murray had the title of reporter instead of student, she would probably be praised for her footage as opposed to punished. You would like to think that IPS would be forthcoming about details of the fights but having a strong piece of footage forces their hand just to make sure.
Tamia Murray’s case is just a sign of the times. Back in the 80s it is highly unlikely a member of the Audio-Visual club was going to have a camera rolling at the exact right time to capture a fight. But today, everyone has a camera readily accessible, and you don’t need to be a member of the A.V. club to use it. As issues like this happen will happen more and more, schools and districts should rethink their stance on recorders being an inherently guilty party.