Ten arrested after melee outside Tolman High

Ten arrested after melee outside Tolman High

Tolman High School senior Montrell Sivels, left, demonstrates how a school resource officer took a student to the ground on Wednesday. Sivels and fellow senior David Garcia, right, organized what they intended to be a peaceful protest about the incident on Thursday before school. The incident escalated and Pawtucket police ended up arresting 10 people and using pepper-spray on a large crowd of students. Behind Garcia and Sivels, Chief of Police Paul King speaks with a concerned resident. (Valley Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)
Police respond to threats with pepper spray; students want justice

PAWTUCKET – It was a wild scene outside Tolman High School on Thursday morning after a peaceful protest turned into a melee between students and police.

Students were protesting a Wednesday incident involving a school resource officer at Tolman taking down a student from behind. The incident was caught on video and quickly went viral. Police say two students attacked the officer.

Watch the video clip here (police emphasize it’s only a small part of what happened):

Senior students Montrell Sivels and David Garcia told The Breeze they had helped organize a peaceful protest before school after students expressed outrage over what they called an unnecessary “body slam” of a student from behind on Wednesday.

“We just want justice and everything to be fixed,” said Sivels.

Sivels said things started to get out of control went a student pulled a fire alarm. Students and police officers faced off and eventually officers used pepper spray on the crowd. Students ran up Exchange Street after they heard that someone had broken a car window. Sivels and Garcia said that’s when tensions escalated.

Police said they arrested 10 people, eight juveniles and two adults, for their involvement in the incident. Most were arrested after confronting police in the parking lot of Granite City just up the street from Tolman, allegedly spitting at and threatening officers near the car that had its window smashed. The student who pulled the fire alarm was also arrested.

Mayor Donald Grebien and Public Safety Director Tony Pires told Sivels and Garcia that they plan to run a full investigation of what happened between the resource officer and students.

“We’re going to complete a thorough investigation and stay in contact with the students as this develops,” said Pires. “We owe it to them.”

According to Garcia and Sivels, this is not the first incident with the resource officer. They said students were upset after he was appointed to the position last year because he took more combative approach than a previous officer.

"He didn't have the respect of the students," said Garcia.

A news release from the Pawtucket Police Department Thursday states that officers initially responded to the area of Tolman to “maintain order” during the early-morning protest. It was as they did that that a student pulled the alarm.

A small delegation of students was invited into Pawtucket City Hall to discuss the events caught on video. As they went in, about 200 students congregated outside City Hall, according to the release.

A group of these students "started to become disorderly" and one smashed the window of a vehicle parked on the street, said police. He was apprehended. As the group migrated to Granite City, some “were spitting at and threatening police officers, and interfering with the arrests of other juveniles,” said police. “At one point an officer discharged pepper spray at several individuals.”

Students reported that their eyes were still burning nearly an hour after they were sprayed. Many said they were only going to check out what happened when the pepper spray began flying.

Sivels and Garcia said they do not believe the incident inside the school Wednesday had anything to do with race, with the officer in question being white and the main students involved being black, but had more to do with the officer in question being too confrontational and violent with students.

“I was upset because he (the student who was taken down) was completely defenseless and had his back to him,” said Garcia.

The ACLU of Rhode Island issued a statement expressing concern about the incident.

In their account, police said it was around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday when the resource officer assigned to Tolman saw a 14-year-old student walking down the hallway screaming obscenities about what he was going to do to another student. A school department employee then told the officer that the teen was trying to fight another student.

The officer escorted the “disorderly juvenile” into the office to investigate the incident. The juvenile continued to yell obscenities while the officer tried to speak to him, states the release. The teen’s behavior escalated to the point where he started punching a bench. He ignored the officer’s commands to stop, and then started punching the office wall. The officer then advised the juvenile he under arrest for disorderly conduct.

While the officer was attempting to take the 14-year-old teen into custody, that youth’s 17-year-old brother entered the office and “began to interfere with the officer, and then started to push the officer,” said police.

“A very large group of students had formed outside the office and were trying to gain entry into the office,” they stated. “Teachers and custodians were trying to move students back from the door, and at one point during the incident held the door closed to prevent students from rushing into the office. Another school department employee in the office, who witnessed the events unfolding, put out a call for more personnel to respond to the office.

Two teens then started attacking the SRO. The 17-year-old struck the officer in the face. The officer then engaged with two combative individuals, managing to get the 17-year-old on the ground. He was attempting to handcuff him when the second teen started to approach the officer from behind.

“The officer saw the individual approaching him, grabbed the juvenile and used a takedown on the juvenile,” said police. “A video clip showing a portion of this incident was placed on social media last evening. Pawtucket Police obtained a copy of that video this morning.”

Students from Tolman High School confront Det. David Silva in the parking lot of Granite City on Thursday. At right, Mayor Donald Grebien tries to calm the situation.


So I'm guessing the resource officer is over 18. Why can't we see his name, but we can see the names of the students

Where are the Body Cams? I am sure Body Cams would be cheaper than what this Family will get when they sue the CITY!!!!

Sue the city? How about the kids and parents take responsibility for their actions? The assaulted a police officer which in turn gets them arrested. Prior to this small video clip the two THUGS had assaulted the officer so that's the reason for the take down.

Looks like school needs a lot better place to detain people. Some kind of minimally furnished room more practical than a padded cell, but less dangerous than an office full of office supplies and a crowd that can come up behind you

Probably could use some kind of portable office design for every day use. Then in times of crisis minimal melee objects in the room are put in locked drawers and desk is bolted to the floor...When door is locked from the outside it activates a vandal proof corner in the ceiling

Personally have no idea what happened precisely leading up to this event - but looks like room for improvement on everyone's behalf

to put jail cells in schools to control the animals.

I would love to see the Video of the punches that were thrown. Is there a video of that available for the public?

I don't think so. It's called Stereotyping. They want Black Live to Matter, however, the Minorities Stereotype THEMSELVES.

Act like animals and you will be treated like animals. Someone needs to break the chain, obviously your Parent(s) didn't.

Grow up and take responsibility for yourselves !

Lets start with the juvenile that was yelling and screaming in the hallways DURING class. What was he doing besides disrupting the school? The SRO was called to calm this "upstanding pillar in our community down" when the officer tried to bring him in the office so the entire 1st floor classes would not be interrupted he decides NOT to listen to the officer and create a bigger problem there, his brother again "im sure he also is a pillar in our community" gets involved and strikes the officer and refused to listen to the officers commands, low and behold get slammed to the ground...I say GOOD would his Low Life Parents rather both their sons be shot?? How about teaching them to be like the rest of the 1,000 plus students there and go to class & respect authority. And now these two other student think they have the right to dictate to the Police Department and City of Pawtucket who THEY want as a SRO I say to bad, deal with it and get you BUTTS in class. Maybe the school administrators downtown get involved and get all the kids names and pass out some suspension days? If you don't like what you have there, feel free to attend the near by school on Walcott Street I'm sure they would love to take your $10,000. Bottom line here is follow the rules and respect authority and you will have no problem or better yet know your role and shut your hole! Mr Pires says we "owe it to them" that the biggest line of B.S. i've ever heard how about they "owe it to us" they get a free education I'm sure free lunch and lets just guess that family gets the "Magic Gold Card" every month too.
Glad not one member of the Police Department got so much as a scratch, I call that a Win for the Good Guys. To the men and women of the Police Department keep up the great work keeping the law abiding people of this City safe day in and day out.

The school is notorius for having violent students. The officer protected him self and all school staff who were present. Instead of getting a lawyer the parents need parenting classes. Sadly its most likely too late for the students involved. Stop blaming the police!

These punks should be thankful that they don't have the police officers that we had when I was in high school. Today I cannot even imagine what a police officer must feel like facing these street punks, talk about feeling demoralized. When I was in high school we never needed police officers around, we took responsibility for our own actions. The very sad part is that these kids have no leadership at home and probably live in a violent atmosphere there. How does the saying go " you learn what you are taught ". Want to stop this from happening, start holding parents responsible for their kids actions. When parents start serving time because their kids are out of control then you will see things change in our society.

There are so many outrageous statements that have been by both the city and the students that its unbelievable. On the city side for Mr Pires to be quoted as saying that city leaders should listen to the students concerns because they owe it to them. Way to back your own officer. With the inevitable lawsuit being written up, you would figure that he would be more careful with his words,guess he likes writting checks.

I just can't justify giving the students comments a response and feed into what they are trying to sell. They are not trying to do anything close to the notion of peace, exercise the right of civil disobedience. To me it appeared that this was nothing more than an excuse to not go to school. Each child that stayed outside after the bell rang should have been suspended inhouse for a length of time, its like the kids are running the school. Their needs to be more strict adherence to rules and regulations and strict enforcement.

The root of the issue boils down to personal responsibility and respect. These young people know nothing of the former and demand the later but don't feel the need to show any. Any educated, somewhat decent person can tell that in the video there are clearly quite a few students, we'll say more than 15, yelling and screaming maybe even egging things on. There is only one officer. What would these students like for him to do, politely ask?

These children (not age, but by actions) need to understand and maybe be taught in the classroom what respect is, how to give it, how to get it. How to take responsibility for you actions, what personal responsibility is all about.

Everybody wonders why police departments around the state have problems with recruiting minorities, look at the news interviews with the students, their attitudes towards police, authority in general, proper grammar etc..

The ACLU should just mind their business on this too.

The men and women of the department, their are people out in the community that support you. Keep fighting the good fight, you are appreciated.

you want respect ,,earn it ,,,these cops are taking it to another level ,,they take money from strippers and flash women driving by them and fall asleep in their cars but we owe them respect ,,,,no way ,,,

pawtucket fan...whatever that means.

I think that once the City entrusts these officers with a firearm, and the State certify's them to lawfully detain and arrest people that is when the respect does not have to be earned. Police to me represent the law and authority and with that authority comes the demand for respect. It's not about the person, because we are all humans and therefore are all flawed. Its not always about actions. It is what the badge represents, authority. Its a basic principle. I just cant fathom how or why young people today just don't understand. If I ever had a dealing with a cop before say 16 or so my father would have kicked my backside something fierce. I guess just a different time period

these 2 idiots were raised with NO respect for anyone . Maybe the parents should of been called and told to take their little darlings home until they learn how to behave. That if they know who they are .