NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Chaos broke out around 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon inside Helen Cox High School in Harvey.
“You had several students that ended up doing some sort of protest, and then pulled the fire alarms which caused a big disturbance at the school itself. Order was out of control,” says Sheriff Joe Lopinto.
School officials say what turned into a large protest started over a dress code violation when a student was asked to remove her hoodie. The school called the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office for help.
“One of the students at that point in time, was coming out of the classroom and one of our detectives told him to get back into the classroom. He cursed my detective. When he pointed back at him, he was cursed again and the student hit the deputy’s hand,” says Sheriff Lopinto.
Sheriff Joe Lopinto says at that point, the deputies began struggling with the 16-year-old student.
“Trying to put this person into handcuffs, which was not happening because he was not cooperating and during that time, our deputies did what they’re trained to do,” says Lopinto.
In the cell phone video, you can see deputies taking the 16-year-old down to the floor and handcuffing him.
“We can’t let kids get away with that. We are trying to make an arrest in a very hostile situation to maintain order,” says Lopinto.
Deputies arrested the teen and booked him with battery on a police officer, resisting an officer, and interfering with an educational facility. Investigators are now looking into who committed vandalism during the protest.
“I mean, let’s face it, most of these kids are trying to do the right thing, but you’ll have some that are agitators. They try to cause problems and when you agitate that amount of students in close proximity, it takes a lot of resources in order to quell that,” says Lopinto.
Lopinto says between 20 and 30 deputies were at the school to restore order. He says more students could face charges once the investigation is complete.