- The Washington Times - Monday, November 2, 2015

About 100 students walked out of classes Friday at the South Carolina high school that made headlines last week after a white school resource officer was fired for body-slamming a disruptive black female student.

Students at Spring Valley High School in Columbia wore T-shirts reading “Free Fields” and “#BringBackFields” as they gathered in the atrium to express their views on the firing of Deputy Ben Fields, USA Today reported.

Principal Jeff Temoney sent a letter to parents afterward saying the walkout only lasted 10 minutes and class continued in a “safe and productive manner.”

“I addressed the students to let them know that we understood their need to make their voices heard,” Mr. Temoney wrote. “Then I reminded them that Spring Valley High is all about the business of teaching and learning, so it’s time to go back to class.”

On Wednesday, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott fired Mr. Fields for breaking protocol when he threw a student across the floor. Footage of the incident stoked the ongoing debate about police brutality and institutionalized racism.

The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a civil rights investigation into the incident, USA Today reported.

John Cassibry, a 17-year-old senior, posted a video of Friday’s demonstration. He said that while he did not agree with Mr. Fields’ conduct in arresting the student, he does not support his firing.

“I believe it is important as a student to voice my opinion,” he told The Huffington Post. “My belief on Deputy Fields is just that — I do believe he was too aggressive, but I do not believe it was any circumstance to lose his job, nor do I believe it was race-driven.”

Mr. Fields’ attorney, Scott Hayes, thanked people Friday for their support, saying “the positive response and heartfelt support of Ben has been overwhelming, a local CBS News affiliate reported.

“We believe that Mr. Fields’ actions were justified and lawful throughout the circumstances of which he was confronted during this incident,” he said. “To that extent, we believe that Mr. Fields’ actions were carried out professionally and that he was performing his job duties within the legal threshold.”

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