Photo: Getty
  /  09.20.2022

A white school bus driver in Morgan County, Georgia, has lost his job after a viral video showed him pushing a pair of young Black siblings and telling them to get to the back of the bus.

The incident reportedly happened on Sept. 9 as the 12-second video, taken by a student, shows James O’Neil telling a 6-year-old Black boy to sit at the back of the bus. When the boy objected, O’Neil started to shove him. You can see his 10-year-old sister trying to reach out for her brother. The girl shouts, “Stop pushing my brother,” as the bus driver continued to repeatedly push the crying boy back into the seat.

The girl asks again for him to stop pushing her brother, but then he suddenly appears to put his hands on the girl too, causing her to stumble backwards. The girl tells the bus driver to “get your hands off.” O’Neil responded by telling her to “shut [her] mouth,” and he continued to then aggressively push her while saying, “What a pain in the neck you guys are. Get back there.” According to the Morgan County Citizen, this went against the regular practice of younger children sitting toward the front of the bus, as high school students sat towards the back.

“The Morgan County Charter School System was made aware of an incident Friday afternoon involving a bus driver and students. We took immediate action, including notifying the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, who we are working with during the investigation. We cannot share further details or comment due to this being a personnel issue; however, the driver was terminated,” a spokesperson said in a statement, according to FOX 5 Atlanta.

The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office is investigating and the mother of the siblings, Nequania Carter, wants to see charges filed. “My son is terrified, he was scared, he called for his older sister as you could hear he was crying. He was horrified. You’re supposed to be protecting him,” she told FOX 5 Atlanta. “I was stunned. The emotional damage that it did. My kids don’t want to go back to school. They don’t want to get back on the school bus.”

Following an investigation, O’Neil was ultimately arrested on Friday (Sept. 16). “The investigation resulted in the arrest of James O’Neil on two counts of simple battery,” Morgan County Chief Deputy Keith Howard said. “While this was not a complex investigation, it was complicated by the allegation that the incident was perceived as being racially motivated.”

Tina Knowles-Lawson shared the video to her Instagram account. “How is it he was just terminated? He should be charged with assault! Go to jail!! He pushed this kid and assaulted his sister!!! I am appalled,” she wrote in the caption beneath the video.

 

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A post shared by Tina Knowles (@mstinalawson)

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