Doug Stanglin, USA Today, October 30, 2015
About 100 students at a South Carolina high school walked out of class briefly Friday to show support for a school resource officer fired after video showed him throwing an uncooperative black female student across the floor, according to local media and Twitter feeds.
The students walked out of classes at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, S.C., around 10 a.m. and gathered in the atrium to express their views on the firing of Deputy Ben Fields.
Some in the crowd–which included both black and white students–wore T-shirts reading “Free Fields” or “#BringBackFields.”
Spring Valley High Principal Jeff Temoney sent a letter to parents afterward saying that the students were back in class within 10 minutes and that class continued in a “safe and productive manner.”
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott fired Fields on Wednesday, saying the school resource officer did not follow the department’s guidelines when he forcibly removed a black female student from a classroom Monday. Lott specifically said the deputy, who is white, broke protocol when he threw the student across the class.
The footage of the original incident sparked a national debate on the officer’s actions.
In the original confrontation on Monday, Fields can be heard telling the student to get up. A few moments later, he grabbed the student as she was in her seat, which caused the girl and the chair to flip over onto the floor. Fields was then seen dragging the girl for several feet and restraining her on the ground.
In a statement, Scott Hayes, Fields’ attorney thanked people Friday for their support, adding “the positive response and heartfelt support of Ben has been overwhelming,”WCSC-TV reports.
Hayes continued, “We believe that Mr. Fields’ actions were justified and lawful throughout the circumstances of which he was confronted during this incident. To that extent, we believe that Mr. Fields’ actions were carried out professionally and that he was performing his job duties within the legal threshold.”