Video of Ben Fields, a Richland County, South Carolina, sheriff’s deputy who manhandled a black female student in a classroom, has added to simmering racial tensions among parents, according to a report in the Guardian, which added that the sheriff’s department has placed Fields on administrative leave while the incident is investigated.
The video lasts only a few seconds but reflects the tension that has built in Richland County School District Two in recent years as rapid demographic trends made the once predominantly white district into one with a majority of black students, the Guardian reported.
“I’ve never seen anything so nasty looking, so sick to the point that you know, other students are turning away, don’t know what to do, and are just scared for their lives,” said Tony Robinson Jr., another student who made a recording, in a related Washington Post article. “That’s supposed to be somebody that’s going to protect us.Not somebody that we need to be scared of, or afraid."
Regarding an earlier incident involving the same officer, a student named Ashton James Reese filed a lawsuit alleging Fields “recklessly targets African-American students with allegations of gang membership and criminal gang activity,” the Guardian reported, adding that the suit is pending.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said late Monday night that Fields will not be back at any school and is not currently working for the department,pending the results of an investigation,WLXTreported.
Reactions to the arrest were trending heavily on Twitter late into the night, with the hashtag #AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh receiving a flood of opinions from users worldwide. Julia Carmel (@JuliaCarmel__) wrote “When a cop can be as violent as the #AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh video in front of a classroom audience, I fear what he’d do with nobody watching,” while Jeff Cannata (@jeffcannata) added “If you watch the #AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh video and wonder why young people defy authority – it’s because THIS is the authority they see.” Jotaka Eaddy (@JotakaEaddy), formerly of the NAACP, wrote “There is nothing that child could have said to deserve that treatment. NOTHING.”