Black Lives Matter protest Spring Valley H.S. incident at State House

Published: Oct. 30, 2015 at 7:44 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2017 at 4:10 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Several groups protested outside the State House Saturday following the release of a video showing a school resource officer violently slamming and dragging a female student from her desk inside a Spring Valley High School classroom.

WEB EXTRA: Watch the three angles of the incident: Angle 1 | Angle 2 | Angle 3

"That cop threw that child across the floor to send a message to every student in that school," said Kevin Gray of Columbia. "That this could be you."

About four-dozen people gathered for the demonstration Saturday afternoon hosted by Black Lives Matter, Black Educators for Justice, and Black Lawyers for Justice.

These are the same groups represented earlier this year during that infamous day of protests when a North Carolina Klan organization showed up at the State House.

"What child deserves to be slammed from her desk and slammed on the floor?" South Carolina State Representative Joe Neal said. Neal is a Democrat representing Richland County.

The activists are calling for Deputy Ben Fields to face criminal charges. Fields was terminated by the sheriff's department on Wednesday thereby losing his position as a school resource officer and assistant football coach at Spring Valley.

They also are demanding the school's principal, teacher and administrator involved to be fired. They say there could have been more peaceful ways to resolve the issue and they believe the student's race was a factor in the outcome.

"There is no doubt in any of our minds," said Efia Nwangaza from the Malcolm X Center.

The groups are demanding the charges be dropped against the girl in this case and a second girl.

"They never should have even been charged. They never should have been charged," said Henrietta Brown of Hopkins. "The police hadn't even been charged and he did this."

"And so it's an event in which we are all coming together to uphold our young sister and the community that has been traumatized by another act of terrorism by sworn officers that are supposed to be protecting  and serving," Muhiyidin D'Baha, a representative of Black Lives Matter, said. "So the first part is to gather us together to say that we're going to stand up for our children because that was not okay no matter what she might have done. There's no reason that an adult especially a sworn protector should be abusing children especially in front of other children."

"We are aghast with the level of Stockholm syndrome that exists in this community where people identify with the perpetrator and blame the victim," Nwangaza said.

After the State House, some demonstrators protested outside the Richland County Sheriff's Department headquarters on Two Notch Road.

People showed up in support of former deputy Fields.

"I want Ben Fields' voice to be heard. He's getting the worst of this," said Rianne Travis of Cayce. "I feel like he didn't do anything wrong. It wouldn't have escalated to that level if she would have listened to the teachers or the administrators then it wouldn't have escalated."

This is not the first demonstration held in response to the Spring Valley incident.

On Friday, over 100 students at the high school walked out of class in support of the officer, former Senior Deputy Ben Fields.

Fields was fired from the Richland County Sheriff's Department in connection with the incident.

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