09/19/2013

Court rejects motion to dismiss SPLC lawsuit challenging use of pepper spray on Alabama schoolchildren

A federal judge denied a motion today by the Birmingham Police Department in Alabama to dismiss an SPLC lawsuit challenging the use of pepper spray on Birmingham public 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.”

The ruling comes just a week after more than 50 students were doused with pepper spray at Birmingham’s Jackson-Olin High School as police reportedly responded to a fight.  

The SPLC’s class action lawsuit, filed in 2010 on behalf of current and future students in the city’s school system, alleges that the police department violated the constitutional rights of students by allowing officers stationed in the schools to use chemical weapons to enforce basic school discipline.