I don’t remember how many weeks or months Proviso East had “riot policeman” posting in the school. I considered it unnecessary. To me it was always ominous to walk the halls with them.
Leaving the office one day during my planning hour I turned right and saw a small/young high student crouched on his knees protecting his head with his arms. I witnessed a policeman swinging his riot stick back up over his head to strike again. I yelled, “Stop. How may I be of help?” The policeman stopped his swing.
“This boy ( a Greaser) is in the hallway without a pass and mouthed off to me.”
I thought, Hmmm, doesn’t seem to be a reason to beat a child with a riot stick. I stepped between them. I commented that could be a reason for detention with a tough teacher and it definitely was not a reason for a beating.
I asked the boy if he needed the nurse. He said no, as he held his shoulder with tears of pain in his eyes. I asked where he was going. He told me. I advised him to get to class quickly.
Then with more strength of character than I thought I had at 26 years of age, I looked the policeman straight in the face and said, “I need to take your badge number.” I wrote it down and told him I would report this incident to the principal who I knew would do nothing about it. I also told him that would report his behavior to the Illinois Human Relations Committee. He wasn’t fired. However, I was asked to leave Proviso East High School at the end of my second year. I was denied tenure.
Shortly thereafter, video cameras were installed looking down every angle of every hallway. This was the very start of video surveillance. A few video/camera stores at that time had cameras aimed at their window shoppers with screens for shoppers to giggle and wave at themselves.
With video surveillance in the school the policemen were no longer needed. All “rioting” stopped and the 3 social classes of students were still treated very differently. The only thing that had changed for the students was that they were constantly watched at school. What had changed for me was that I was gathering the courage to become authentic on my pathway to becoming a Super-Ager.