Students Protest Firing Of Spring Valley High School Officer

Deputy Ben Fields was fired this week for violently arresting a black 16-year-old student.
Richland County Sheriff's Department via ASSOCIATED PRESS

Students at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina, left their classes on Friday to protest the firing of Ben Fields, a former resource officer at the school.

Fields, until recently a sheriff's deputy in Richland County, was let go on Wednesday after a video emerged of him violently removing a 16-year-old African-American student from her chair, slamming her to the ground and arresting her. The video sparked widespread outrage and multiple government investigations as to whether the incident constituted a civil rights violation.

The local NBC affiliate WIS reported that hundreds of students participated in Friday's walkout at 10 a.m., before a school administrator told them to return to class.

John Cassibry, a 17-year-old senior, posted a video of the demonstration and a confrontation with a school administrator.

"We've heard your voices. We appreciate you taking the time to do this," the school administrator said. "We always focus on teaching and learning. Let's head on back to class."

Some of the students responded by yelling "Free Fields."

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."

Several of the students seen demonstrating in Cassibry's video are black. Cassibry estimated that black students accounted for a majority of the protesters on Friday.

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