From Hickman High School to YouTube

Friday, October 24, 2008 | 12:00 p.m. CDT; updated 11:17 a.m. CST, Monday, November 17, 2008

Dear Reader:

A 15-year-old shook up our town a week ago.

That's when a Hickman High School girl posted a video to YouTube, the ubiquitous Web site for videos submitted by anyone and, it seems, everyone.

The video showed a fight at the cafeteria. Two girls flailed at each other. A third (it was only later clarified) tried to break up the fight.

And then Columbia police officer Mark Brotemarkle enters the scene, forcibly separating the kids and handcuffing them on the floor.

The scene was reported on Friday morning, along with a link to the video. When YouTube removed it, the Missourian and other news organizations in town put the video back up on local news sites.

A bunch of questions were asked and answered along the way. I want to share some with you:

Was the fight really news?

One of the most disturbing exchanges in the newsroom came during the 11 a.m. news meeting. One of our reporters said the fight was common in high schools. Several others agreed. (Many of our student reporters are just two or three years removed from high school.)

In other words, it was a case of dog bites man. Commonplace.

For many parents and others, the violence shown by the video was disturbing. It's one thing to hear about a rise in "incidents" at Hickman, and quite another to see it.

The fighting may be normal. It's also wrong. The problem isn't just a school issue. It's a community issue.

The other issue: Whether Officer Brotemarkle went over a line in breaking up the scuffle.

Was the video fair?

On one level, viewers can watch and decide for themselves whether the officer used more force than was necessary. It's out there.

An eyewitness account is just that — the view from a single person. Additional reporting is required to better understand the scene.  Verification, reaction and consequences — all of these things came out through more reporting. The on-the-scene report from the student was the catalyst from which everything else followed.

Why didn't we identify the girl shooting the video?

There is a high standard against anonymity at the Missourian. But the girl feared for recriminations against her, and her mother asked as well. One of the checks in our policy is whether someone could be harmed.

Officer Brotemarkle has returned to Hickman while the Professional Standards Unit investigates. Meanwhile, other teenagers roam the halls of Hickman, cell phones in hand.

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Charles Dudley Jr October 24, 2008 | 12:29 p.m.

Why aren't concerned citizens of Columbia looking at and talking about the parents role in all of this?

Are you complacent citizens afraid to face this issue of parental responsibility?

What are parents just "breeders" these days and not nurturers and educators of their children as well?

Enough with the talk of bad mouthing and second guessing the police man on duty,the actions of the girl supposedly trying to break up the fight,the role of the teachers and CPS and lets get into the root of this issue that nobody wants to touch out of obvious fear of being labeled as a concerned citizen,parent,teacher,health care worker or whatever your title is and lets talk about the role of responsible parents and raising their children to be responsible citizens.

Tough talk? You bet because until you work on the root of this issue you will never cure the tree and thus in doing so allow it's fruit to flourish.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand October 24, 2008 | 12:53 p.m.

I'm not surprised, Chuck. This is a society that doesn't condemn irresponsible adults, such as those who make children while on welfare. No surprise to see a blind eye turned toward the offspring of the irresponsible, too.

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Bob Mitchell October 24, 2008 | 1:22 p.m.

This whole article about the fight at 'Ole Hick, better known as Hickman High, is really not so uncommon. For I remember in the days of the late 70's, there was fights there then, and it was probably just as bad, BUT it was really bad when our football team played the Jefferson City Jays, and they had all kinds of fights, and we hardly made the paper news over that. But today, 34 years later, you have cell phones, etc. and the funny thing is the school district allows the kids to bring the phones to class, and nothing said. And this young child captures a fight, in which isn't no big deal in the hallways, and the police officer really over did it. But I viewed the video, and from what I saw of it, the police officer seemed to have had a problem controlling his attitude towards the girls. He throws one like a rag doll, and handles the other girl like a man, and pushes the other, what a mess. The whole fact of the matter here is this. Parents, you are the whole reason why kids fights in the schools, just like it was when I was there in the 70's.
You let your kid hang with just about anything or anybody, and you loose control. You the parent don't make your kid respect other people or teenagers, and then they are just like wild tigers in the open range, waiting for a fight. Parents, you want to point the finger at you tube, or the girl who took the video, or even the police officer, why not point the finger at yourself for not being responsible for your own house and children. The school system isn't a babysitter, while you continue having more children to be un-controlled. That's why the police officers have to do such a tough job to keep peace in the schools. However this officer was wrong to a great degree, BUT had he not been there, maybe you would have had a dead kid there on the scene. Look around you. Kids aren't kids anymore, they take their mommy and daddy's gun to school and kill people. Is this what you as a parent want to live with?
I feel sorry for all the students and teachers at Hickman. Matter of fact, I'm surprised Hickman has lasted as long as it has, based on the fact that it's a breeding ground for gangster's un-supervised, because of the parents. Parents, take responsibility for your OWN kid, and do your job.
To bad the old teachers are gone, and they took whipping the child out of the school, cause if that was still there, nine times out of ten, this would not have happened like this.
And you need to get rid of those cell phones, cause they're not helping things in the system. I think my statement has been proven well. YOUTUBE.COM tells it all.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro October 24, 2008 | 1:50 p.m.

I watched the Hickman teenagers fight video and noticed that there was a woman trying to hold back Diamond "in the rough" Thrower "me into any good old fight."
The adult supervisor was obviously aware of Diamond's intent to "join in the ruckus" and Diamond obviously broke away from this woman's grasp and disobeyed the adult's wishes.
Doesn't this "family," and those who are trying to avert attention away from the perpetrators, realize that they are coming across as ignorant, arrogant, greedy opportunists who only draw resentment from those who know better? These people are just trying to "game" the system and CPD and Bill Watkins should take a stand in favor of Officer Brotemarkle and the swift way he secured the situation.
This "Thrower" girl should have her "mentor" explain that "good" intentions fueled by impulsive emotions and behavior doesn't always mean that you've made a good choice.
A good mentor should help the kid grow up to understand the "big picture" and not just tell her what she wants to hear. I'm sick and tired of adults who think that babying their little "angel's" ego and "self-esteem" is good parenting. It only creates a "we against the world" scenario and perpetuates distance and animosity.
She chose to "jump into the fight" and that is wrong for any student to do. Stop playing the victim and grow up!
How many teenagers have mentors/family spokesman at Hickman anyways? Is this a new trend to replace dads? (Does Diamond Thrower "me into any good fight" have someone assigned to do her homework while she attends the Hickman fight club over-seen by her own personal trainer? When does she plan to get a publicist? Will there be a book deal?) Now this little girl got embarrassed, had her "feeling" hurt so an attorney will get her sympathy,publicity and money. What does she learn from that when she witnesses another fight she wants to join in on?
Too much emphasis is being placed on Officer Brotemarkle trying to do his job and not enough on the consequences the fighting teens, including Diamond Thrower, need to face.
Officer Brotemarkle doesn't deserve to suffer at Hickman any longer. He deserves immediate removal, a medal and a promotion!
Let the teenage punks, bullies, strong-armers, system scamers, drug dealers run Hickman. Maybe then we'll hear about some good, decent parents getting involved to back up the administrators and law enforcement officials in our community!
(Jump into a high school fight, get busted and hire an attorney--what a laugh and how disrespectful to the adults trying to do their job!)

(Report Comment)
Nathan Stephens October 24, 2008 | 3:42 p.m.

You are correct when you say that the video caused quite a stir in our town. It caused people to align themselves and express their viewpoints and most people including myself was shocked by some of the responses. I realized for the first time in a long time that Columbia is not the "one of the top ten cities" it professes to be except for people that possess certain ideologies, values and outlooks on life. If one finds themselves outside of the "community norm" they realize just how isolated this community can make them.

I guess for me is what is most problematic is the way an inncent 15 year old girl has been scapegoated and her parents names run through the mud. For the record Diamond was not fighting but breaking up a fight. Yet several of the blog posters act as if she "jumped in" the fight. Also, Diamond's parents are to becredited because Diamond doesn't have an extensive discipline record at school. She is the victim here whether you agree with what "Bruise-markle" did or not.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro October 24, 2008 | 4:19 p.m.

She's not innocent. She interfered with official police/adult business and should have not placed herself in jeopardy regardless of her intentions. You can add this incident to whatever discipline record she currently has, sparse or extensive. (Afterall, how long of a rap sheet can a 15 year old have?) Her parents should have taught her to stay out of trouble and not get physically involved in a fight at school or in the streets. (Or is this some new rule of "the jungle gang" that I don't know about. Did she actually think that she was "powerful" enough to stop this violent physical fight amongst her girlfriends. She chose to become "part of it"))Maybe Diamond's attorney should also sue Hickman's principal for having such hard floors at the school, which bruised her ego!
Have some respect for Officer Brotemarkle, the CPD and school authorities that have to put up with immature behavior and childish nonsense every day of their career!

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand October 24, 2008 | 4:33 p.m.

Nathan wrote: "I realized for the first time in a long time that Columbia is not the 'one of the top ten cities' it professes to be except for people that possess certain ideologies, values and outlooks on life."

You mean people who believe that adults and teen-agers should behave themselves? It's amazing how much money this community has to waste on people who act like brats, who refuse to work, or who make kids they can't afford.

(Report Comment)
Nathan Stephens October 25, 2008 | 10:46 a.m.

You know some of the comments made are very stereotypical. I mean how many people do you actually know Ayn who refuse to work and make kids they cannot afford. And by the way, that is not a race thing, that occurs in all demographics. Know what you are talking about. You are really showing your true colors. As for Ray, well, he's really showing what he's about with the whole 'Jungle Gang' comment.

You don't know her parents and therefore are not qualified to judge them. And yes, she is powerful enough to ask people not to fight. I mean the First Ward Ambassadors do this regularly and are commended for it. How is what Diamond did any different? I mean if she is encouraging them not to fight, not to get suspended by fighting, I still fail to understand how this is so wrong in your eyes?
Personally, I have no respect for officer Brotemarkle and he knows exactly why I don't respect him as a man, an officer or even a human being. As for some of the rest of the Columbia Police Department, total respect. Just wait until he slams you on the ground, or maces you in the face for nothing. Then and only then will you understand why several people have lost respect for him.

Doing your job is one thing but what he does is totally unnecessary and I think people don't realize that when they don't see the patterns that this particular officer has. I mean there is a reason why he will never be promoted and that comes from his own department. So once again, I understand that most of your comments come from a lack of the history of this guy. But even if it wasn't him there are ways that you do things. My group the First Ward Ambassadors and I have broken up several fights on several occassions and not once have we had to slam someone on the ground because we don't know who is involved. Even to the untrained eyes of the First Ward Ambassadors, it never takes us long to find out who's involved and to break it up without slamming anyone.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 25, 2008 | 11:19 a.m.

Nathan Stephens why don't you explain your views to us all of what part the parents have in all of this since you want to run with this.

I for one would totally appreciate you posting your view points since you say you are a member of First Ward Ambassadors.

What part do you truly feel the parents have in raising their children with the values to not go out and do these things that have been going on not only at HHS but all around our nation as a whole.

I look forward to your presentation.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro October 25, 2008 | 2:28 p.m.

I came across the following "Chuck" post in the Trib and thought it might be helpful to post it here as well...

Somebody asked me to post a possible solution to this ongoing problem not only at HHS but what could be done in these types of issues in our schools across this country and as such here is some real tough and grounded solutions.

For the parents of these troubled teens CPS has to deal with now:

First thing would be mandatory teacher,mental health professional,law enforcement counciling of the parents of any and all of these troubled teens with in the CPS system if they were to remain with in the CPS system. No exceptions. Period. This would be done as a group project/therapy type of sessions on the most professional of levels and standards. If the parents did not comply then their kids would not be allowed in the system.

It is not fair to all of the good parents and good hard working children to have to have this kind of trouble around.

You say that is tough love? Dam straight!

Second the same kind of mandatory counciling for any and all troubled teens of the CPS system with the same penalties included of not being able to participate in the system. School is a privilege and not a right and as such children and parents need to learn to respect that fact.

Both of these programs could be run or modeled off of the current Mental Health or Drug Court Systems in place now only with out the daily check in's as they do but there even could be a kind of "check in" if it was set up correctly.

If a child causes trouble of this kind even after these programs are in place then you have the programs up and running to deal with the issue.

You ask what would this do for parents still looking to bring their kids into the CPS system? The above sends a strong message that these kinds of problems will not be tolerated in the CPS system and will be dealt with as such. It is time that the CPS system take back it's schools and how they are run from the kids and the unruly parents of those kids and put that power back into their own hands and that of the teachers themselves instead of letting the kids and parents run the show.

Accountability is the prime goal.

Back when I was in school that behavior was not tolerated one bit by the teachers,the school principles nor the school district as a whole and rest assured I watched alot of very bad kids get expelled from the school I attended never to come back nor be allowed into another school in the district.

That was how it was back in the day but in these days we live in to often times it seems we as a society have become too soft and lenient in our ways of dealing with the problems in our schools and the home in general.

- Posted by: Chuck65201 | October 25, 2008 11:46 AM

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