An estimated 100 students at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina, walked out of class Friday morning to protest the firing of school resource officer and sheriff’s deputy Ben Fields, local outlets report. Fields was fired on Wednesday for throwing a female student across a classroom during an incident that began as a disciplinary dispute over her use of a cellphone. A number of black students were involved in Friday’s protest; Fields is white and the female student is black, and the case has been discussed nationally in the context of wider problems of racist policing. Here’s video of school principal Jeff Temoney speaking to the group:
(Given the testosterone-ish tenor of the shouting in that video and other online clips of the protest, it’s probably worth noting that Fields was also the school football team’s defensive line and strength coach.)
A black student named John Cassibry, who posted the video above, spoke to the Huffington Post:
Cassibry, who participated in the protest, told The Huffington Post that while he did not agree with Fields’ conduct in the student arrest, he also did not believe the officer deserved to be fired.
“I believe it is important as a student to voice my opinion,” Cassibry said. “My belief on Deputy Fields is just that – I do believe he was too aggressive, but I do not believe it was any circumstance to lose his job, nor do I believe it was race-driven.”
An attorney representing the female student told the New York Daily News her arm was broken during the incident. Fields has not yet commented publicly.