09 November 2015

Students Support Deputy Ben Fields

Officer Ben Fields
How fast the page has turned after a group of South Carolina high school students has staged a brief, peaceful walkout in support of a sheriff's deputy who was fired after being recorded on video flipping a disruptive female student out of her desk and tossing her across the classroom floor.

The incident sparked an outcry from small, but loud, civil rights groups who raised questions about whether the student's race, she is black and the officer white, played a role in the use of force.

Local news media outlets quote Spring Valley High School Principal Jeff Temoney as saying that approximately 100 students gathered in the school's atrium last 30 October to back former Richland County Deputy Ben Fields.

According to a yearly profile available from the Richland 2 School District, Spring Valley has just over 2,000 students in grades 9-12 and is 72 percent minority enrollment.

Ty'Juan Fulton, a Spring Valley student, said he felt Fields simply did his job in removing a disruptive student from the classroom. "That's what he's supposed to do when a student don't actually get up and listen. I think it's also her fault too for not listening. It didn't really have to go that far for an administrator and a deputy and a teacher to tell you to leave."

Fulton also said the level of force Fields used "wasn't called for."

Videos and pictures of the walkout appeared on social media, some showing students wearing T-shirts that said "#bringbackfields" and "#bringfieldsback."

Temoney addressed the students, who he said returned to class about 10 minutes after their protest began.

Fields, who also coached football, was fired and banned from school district properties. Federal and state investigations into his actions are underway. He has prevailed against accusations of excessive force and racial bias before.