After a classroom video of police violence against a black girl goes viral, a heated national debate erupts. Whose fault is it? Was it racist? And why are police officers patrolling US schools anyway? Activist Vivian Anderson uproots her life to help the girl, and also confronts the officer.
Several US states have laws criminalising ‘disturbing school’. It is under such a law that Ben Fields, a white South Carolina police officer, confronts the ‘criminal behaviour’ of 16-year-old Shakara Murphy. After a dispute with her teacher about having her phone out in class, Fields very violently removes Shakara. Both she and her classmate Niya Kenny, who filmed the incident, are arrested and charged with ‘school disturbance’.
Niya’s video of the incident goes viral, however, catching the attention of New York-based activist Vivian Anderson. Anderson decides to move to South Carolina to help the girls. We follow her establishing grassroots organisation Every Black Girl, and also engaging in a dialogue with police officer Fields, who sees himself as a ‘political victim’. Looking at the story from all sides, On These Grounds offers a thorough and very personal deep dive into systemic racism in the US.