STATEMENT: Osceola Sheriff's deputy viciously assaults student, underscoring urgency in call for #PoliceFreeSchools - Advancement Project - Advancement Project

STATEMENT: Osceola Sheriff’s deputy viciously assaults student, underscoring urgency in call for #PoliceFreeSchools

Media Contacts:

Gina Physic, 202-505-4659, [email protected]

After a year of #PoliceFreeSchools wins in cities nationwide, Advancement Project National Office and Alliance for Educational Justice
respond to recent #AssaultAtLiberty

WASHINGTON, DC - On January 26, 2021 videos documenting the assault of a student by an Osceola Sheriff’s deputy began to spread across social media. The student, a girl who attends Liberty High School, was slammed to the ground by the deputy, an adult male twice her size, who has since been confirmed by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office to be employed by the agency as a school resource officer (SRO) at the high school. 

According to local reports, after the student was slammed to the ground by the deputy she appeared to lose consciousness. 

Advancement Project National Office and Alliance for Educational Justice are long standing partners with thousands of youth organizers who are pushing local governments to enforce #PoliceFreeSchools. The #AssaultAtLiberty can be added to a long list of infuriating attacks on youth that bring to light the continued maltreatment of Black and Brown people by this country’s police-state and the ways that our Black and Brown youth are criminalized in their places of learning. 

“The same police who assault, harass, and kill Black and Brown people in the streets are now being employed by schools and assaulting our young people in their classrooms and on their campuses,” said Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of Advancement Project National Office. “In the midst of COVID, police in schools have doubly deadly consequences. The #AssaultAtLiberty is a call to action. Despite progress in cities like Minneapolis, Denver, and Oakland in 2020, there is still much work to be done and accountability to be taken.” 

Our call for #PoliceFreeSchools is urgent. The time for #PoliceFreeSchools is now. Here are our demands following the #AssaultAtLiberty:

  1. Repeal Florida State Law requiring that at least one police officer be present in every school.
  2. Fire the Osceola Sheriff's deputy involved in this assault and guarantee that he will not work as a school resource officer elsewhere in the future. Any investigation into this incident should be led by a community taskforce, not law enforcement or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
  3. Ensure that no suspensions are made and no charges are filed against any of the students involved in this incident, including those who recorded and shared video on social media. 
  4. Ensure that impacted students have continued access to education, including but not limited to, a right return to Liberty High School (if desired), and that none of the involved students are involuntarily transferred, but welcomed back to school.
  5. Provide emotional, social, and mental health support and resources to the students involved, including those who witnessed this assault, and their families. 
  6. Implement school wide restorative justice at Liberty High School in order to create a nurturing school climate. 
  7. Require the protection and safety of Black and all oppressed youth who organize to protest against state violence and to protect themselves from all forms of violence.

Jonathan Stith, National Director of Alliance for Educational Justice added, “The #AssaultAtLiberty demonstrates that school districts are complicit and willingly fail to protect Black and Brown students from police violence. The incoming Secretary of Education needs to protect BIPOC and other impacted students from the school to prison pipeline and that begins with removing police from schools.” 

“Time and time again we see the harm of school police being imposed on students, especially students of color. This attack is one of the many we’ve seen, but hopefully not one of the countless attacks that have gone unaccounted for,” said Keno D. Walker of Power U Center for Social Change. “We know that school districts in Florida continue to add funding toward this false sense of school safety by pushing the narrative that SROs play roles such as counselors, mentors, and supports for students on top of creating a safe and healthy school environment. Our lived experiences as students of color encountering SROs isn’t helpful, as you can see from the attack on the young lady at Liberty High School. We are choked, slammed, arrested, Baker Acted, and seen as nuisances rather than students.”

A society that relies on policing and assaulting youth does not value human life, and it is those who are marginalized that experience this devaluing most. To learn more about our campaign for #PoliceFreeSchools and our call for #FreeAndSafe communities, visit:


Advancement Project National Office is a next-generation, multi-racial civil rights organization. Rooted in the great human rights struggles for equality and justice, we exist to fulfill America’s promise of a caring, inclusive and just democracy. We use innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change. Visit

Alliance for Educational Justice is a national alliance of Black and oppressed youth leading a movement to end the war on youth in our schools and waging struggle for education as liberation. #PoliceFreeSchools | #EndWarOnYouth 

Power U Center for Social Change is organizing and developing the leadership of Black and Brown youth and Black women in South Florida so that they may help lead the struggle to liberate all oppressed people. 


20 Ways Black People Made History in 2020

By Brittney Johnson, Communications Intern As we celebrate another Black History Month, we reflect on the milestones and accomplishments of Black Americans. From the ringing bells of Emancipation to the Civil Rights Movement, to the election of the first Black president, we continue to make history and move mountains despite the odds against us. For starters, 2020 was a tough year. Not only because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also because of the multiple lives we lost to police brutality, social injustice and racial inequality. BUT, 2020 also brought many historic moments for the Black community as we pushed for…

Read More
National organizations pen letter to Montgomery County Council, Board of Education in support of removing police from schools

Following recent police assaults of young people in Florida and New York, the call for #PoliceFreeSchools in Montgomery County is emphatic

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Issues Statement on President Biden’s Executive Orders Addressing Racial Equity

“We acknowledge and commend the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to make racial equality a legislative priority and center piece to their agenda."

Read More
Leading Civil Rights Groups Call on President Biden to Create White House Racial Equity and Inclusion Office

CONTACT Jessica Sarstedt Email: [email protected] WASHINGTON, DC—In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, historic racial justice protests, and unprecedented commitment by the executive office to confront systemic racism, the Racial Equity Anchor Collaborative—the foremost diverse coalition of national racial justice and civil rights organizations representing and serving more than 53 million people in the U.S.—is pushing for racial equity to be at the forefront of government operations, policies and practices. The coalition calls on President Joe Biden to establish a White House Office on Racial Equity and Inclusion to coordinate the full range of federal agency…

Read More
Healing Communities of Color Beyond Wellness

By Flavia Jimenez, Managing Director of Organizational Development & Leadership We are our only relevant hope We are our only possible medicine –what is unveiled? the founding wound  by Adrienne Maree Brown When organizations discuss plans to address the impact that systemic racism and the violence of white supremacy have on staff, we often lack the language to openly discuss viable options. Perhaps it is because the wounds are too deep and too raw. Where do we even begin to bring a framework to folks who live and work with the pain? What do we do about…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Applauds Nomination of Civil Rights Leaders to Biden-Harris U.S. Department of Justice

“Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke are formative civil rights leaders with decades of experience fighting discrimination, ensuring equity and safeguarding all Americans."

Read More
Leading Civil Rights and Racial Justice Organizations Denounce Domestic Terrorism at U.S. Capitol

‘Those who aim to obstruct the peaceful transition of power must be held accountable.’

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Responds to DA Announcement in Jacob Blake Shooting

The Kenosha County District Attorney, Michael Graveley, today announced that Rusten Sheskey, the police officer who shot Jacob Blake seven times in August will not be criminally charged.

Read More
Defund the Police is the Right Demand, Policy Makers Should Take Note

By Thomas Harvey, Justice Project Director Former President Barack Obama recently made headlines when he called defund the police a “snappy slogan” and urged Black organizers to decide if they “actually want to get something done” or if they just “want to feel good among people you already agree with” during an interview with Peter Hamby on Snapchat’s “Good Luck America.” Generally speaking, supporters of defund the police fall into two camps: those who want to reallocate bloated police budgets to social services or community programs and those who want to do that as a first step on the…

Read More