Parents voice opinions regarding officer’s actions at district meeting

Published: Oct. 28, 2015 at 5:04 AM EDT|Updated: Nov. 7, 2015 at 6:04 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Members of the community ensured their voices would be heard on Tuesday.

One by one, more than a dozen people let their voices be heard at a Richland County School District Two meeting nearly a day after a controversial video surfaced.

The video that has drawn millions of views across the globe reportedly shows a Richland County Sheriff's Department school resource officer, Ben Fields, slam a Spring Valley High student to the floor and drag her across the classroom before arresting her for disturbing a math class at the school.

Stephen Gilchrist, a representative with the district's Black Parents Association, argued the takedown was far beyond excessive.

"My son said to me, 'Dad, no white child would have been removed from Spring Valley like that,'" Gilchrist told board members.

Meanwhile, Rebecca Woodford, who says she knows Deputy Fields in passing, has a different viewpoint, even though she says the video did take her by surprise.

"That child in the classroom was given ample opportunity to comply," she said. "She was told multiple times I'm sure by the teacher and the administrator to please get up and leave the room. She chose to not comply. She chose to be defiant."

In the meeting and in an earlier news conference, board members told the public that Fields has been banned from district property.

Leaders blasted the video as disturbing, but many stopped short of saying what Fields did was wrong. The district, however, did say it's committed to investigating the incident and taking action when it's appropriate.  Still, some want action now.

"South Carolina, you're doing yourselves well cross the world," Craig Conwell said. "You kill nine people in Charleston. You shoot the young brother on Broad River Road for going to get his license and registration. And now, you're beating young girls in school."

Spring Valley principal Jeff Temoney says he spoke with students at the school earlier today. Although he wouldn't go into details about what they talked about, he touted his background as a counselor.

The district said it's assessing protocols between disciplinary and criminal acts and when the school resource officer should be called into the classroom.

Leaders also noted on Tuesday that the district doesn't believe the incident was racially motivated.

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