The South Carolina NAACP chapter has spoken out about the troubling video of a teenage girl being thrown to the ground by a resource officer at Spring Valley High School in Columbia.
President Lonnie Randolph spoke to reporters Tuesday afternoon, calling the treatment of the unidentified Black teen “aggressive.” On Monday, Richland County Sheriff Deputy Ben Fields was filmed flipping a student out of her desk after she refused to leave the classroom for using her phone. The teen was then dragged by her clothes.
Soon after the video was uploaded and gained national attention, Fields was placed on administrative leave. On Tuesday afternoon, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced that Fields was suspended without pay.
Randolph also said he was pleased that the Justice Department and the FBI will be looking into the case.
“I don’t see the need for such an aggressive manner in law enforcement,” Randolph said. “I think a chance should have been given to the parents or a parent of the teen to have the student removed from the school. There are several ways it could have been done in a peaceful, non-violent matter. The matter in which this happened was a violent matter.”
When asked if race was a contributing factor to the way the teen was treated, Randolph battled with providing an outright answer. However, he later spoke about the overall treatment of African-Americans in the South.
“It’s easy to point out that race is a problem in America. This is South Carolina,” Randolph continued. “I’m comfortable with saying race was indeed a factor. Race is always a problem. I don’t recall a student that was not of color (maybe once or twice it has happened) of an incident occurring at this level.”
Meanwhile, Tony Robinson, Jr., one of the teens who recorded the incident, spoke with WLTX 19 about what he witnessed. Robinson said he was shocked and disappointed to see the resource officer get physical with his classmate over a cell phone.
Robinson told reporters the teen was apologetic towards the teacher before Fields entered the classroom. He revealed that three minutes had gone by before he decided to pull out his phone and record the disturbing confrontation.
WLTX 19 reports:
“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,” Robinson said. “That’s supposed to be somebody that’s going to protect us. Not somebody that we need to be scare off, or afraid.”
“That was wrong. There was no justifiable reason for why he did that to that girl.”
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has also asked to participate in the investigation. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott held a conference for reporters, assuring the public Fields’ actions would not be tolerated by the police department.
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