A day after a group of students staged a walk out from Spring Valley High School in support of fired school resource officer Ben Fields, a protest against the officer's actions is being planned at South Carolina's State House on Saturday afternoon.
Black Lives Matter, Black Educators for Justice and Black Lawyers for Justice are planning to gather in Columbia, S.C., WIS-TV reports, demanding that some school administrators be fired, and that the state reviews the use of school resource officers. They also want charges dropped against the two girls arrested in the incident: the student who was dragged from her desk by Fields, and another student who was arrested after challenging Fields' actions. Both are facing charges under South Carolina's 'disturbing schools' law, which could result in up to 90 days jail time and a $1000 fine. Activists say the law itself needs to be reconsidered.
"[Today's protest] is 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, an organizer for Black Lives Matter, told WSMV-TV. "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."
The roughly 100 students who walked out of class in support of Fields Friday morning gathered briefly in the school's atrium—some wearing t-shirts that said "Bring Back Fields"—and said their encounters with the officer had not been negative.
“We just want to show that we’re still supporting him and everything and that he’s still a good guy, and everything and we don’t want his reputation to be ruined because of something that happened on Monday,” one student, London Harrell, told WLTX-19.
Fields was fired on Wednesday after an internal review by the Richland County Sheriff's Department found that he had used techniques that went against department standards when he grabbed the student, dragged her in her desk and threw her across the floor. The Justice Department and the F.B.I. are still investigating the incident as a civil rights case.
Meanwhile, the attorney representing the student who was allegedly assaulted by Fields has started a GoFundMe page to help the girl pay for medical, educational and other costs. The campaign had more than $40,000 worth of donations as of Saturday morning.