COLUMBIA — A small group of protesters gathered outside the Columbia Police Department headquarters at noon Monday to protest Resource Officer Mark Brotemarkle’s return to Hickman High School.
The protesters held signs with phrases such as "Get Him Out!" and "Our Students 1st."
Brotemarkle is currently under investigation by the police department’s Professional Standards Unit for using unnecessary force to control a fight at Hickman on Oct. 15. He left the school on Oct. 17 after a video of the fight was posted on the Web site YouTube, according to Missourian archives.
In the video, Diamond Thrower, a Hickman sophomore, was thrown to the ground and handcuffed by Brotemarkle. Thrower was not personally involved in the fight, but was attempting to break it up. She later went to the hospital for neck and back problems, and did not return to school for the remainder of the week.
Brotemarkle returned to Hickman the following Monday, Oct. 20, with the investigation pending. Columbia Police Capt. Zim Schwartze told the Missourian on Oct. 22 that Columbia Police Department policy says officers are to remain in their positions unless there is a serious incident, such as an officer shooting.
Thrower did not attend the demonstration today, but Ray Magruder, her mentor of six years, was one of the first people to arrive.
“We’re trying to send a message with visible presence to the community,” Magruder said.
Though the demonstration today was meant to protest the department’s decision to allow Brotemarkle’s return before the conclusion of the investigation, several in attendance said that they want to take it further.
"Our ultimate mission is to have Brotemarkle removed from the school district," Magruder said.
"I’d like him completely off of the force," said Nathan Stephens, a Hickman parent.
Nathan and Demetria Stephens have two children who attend Hickman, and have advised them to keep their distance from Brotemarkle.
"They have been told not to converse with this gentleman," Nathan Stephens said.
The Rev. Ray Warren of Mt. Celestial Baptist Church has no children at Hickman, but he attended the demonstration as a concerned citizen. He believes that violent behavior should not be tolerated in public schools.
"If it was a student, they would be expelled," Warren said. He said that the punishment should be no less for teachers or security personnel.
A second protest is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday before the school board meeting outside the Columbia Public Schools' administration building at 1818 W. Worley St.