As the FBI and Department of Justice have been called in to investigate, new facts are still emerging in what Black Lives Matter activists have dubbed the #AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh after videos of a Columbia, South Carolina, deputy forcibly removing a non-compliant student from a desk went viral after the Monday incident.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Tuesday that the video shows the student hitting the officer who had been called to the class, but that his internal investigation did not concern the student’s behavior. He told reporters that, although the student “was wrong for disturbing the class, I’m looking at what our deputy did.”
Witnesses report that the student had taken out her cell phone in class and then refused to turn it over to a teacher. The teacher then brought in a school administrator, who asked the girl several times to leave the classroom. After the student refused those requests, the administrator requested the assistance of the deputy.
Lott expects the investigation to decide whether deputy Ben Fields will be fired should be concluded within 24 hours.
Lott also said that he doesn’t believe the incident was motivated by racism, pointing out that deputy Ben Fields has been romantically involved with a black woman for “quite some time.”
The Obama DOJ under Loretta Lynch has opened a federal civil rights investigation into what a spokesman called “the circumstances surrounding the arrest.”
Lonnie Randolph, president of the South Carolina chapter of the NAACP, said his group had called the U.S. Attorney’s Office and was very happy to see that the feds are investigating.
Meanwhile, Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders chimed in on the video on Twitter, with Clinton saying there was “no excuse” and Sanders using the Black Lives Matter catchphrase “school-to-prison pipeline.”
There is no excuse for violence inside a school. The #AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh is unacceptable—schools should be safe places. -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 27, 2015
School officials also made statements about the incident. School board chairman James Manning spoke at a news conference Tuesday and called the video “shamefully shocking.” School administrator Debbie Hamm said in a statement that the school district is “deeply concerned.”