On These Grounds
An explosive video goes viral, showing a white school resource officer in South Carolina pull a Black teenager from her school desk and throw her across the floor. An outraged nation divides over who is at fault and what role race played in the incident. Healer-Activist Vivian Anderson uproots her life in NYC and moves to South Carolina to help the girl and dismantle the system behind the “Assault at Spring Valley,” including facing the police officer.
To contextualize this incident, geographer Janae Davis treks the surrounding swamps to unearth the overgrown and neglected homes of formerly enslaved people of African descent, drawing a throughline connecting trauma from the past to the present. Against the backdrop of racial reckoning and its deep historical roots, one incident illuminates a persistent American power structure.
Much like the nation at large, the arresting officer and the girl thrown from the desk have starkly different perspectives of what happened. Through intimate verité footage and extensive interviews with both, a hidden truth is unearthed about what actually happened that day. Throughout the film, select scholars, historians, and experts provide further context to the story, as well as an examination of race, school discipline, and police accountability.