If the name Spring Valley fails to resonate with you, then you are not up-to-date on the latest example of police terrorism against innocent black people. At least that’s the way the story is being packaged by the mainstream media, including the New York Times, which ran an op-ed today by author Roxane Gay, who wrote:
“On Monday, in Columbia, S.C., Ben Fields, a [white] sheriff’s deputy assigned to Spring Valley High School, was called to a classroom to exert control over an allegedly disobedient student — a black girl. She wouldn’t give up her cellphone to her teacher, an infraction wholly disproportionate to what came to pass. There are at least three videos of the incident. When Mr. Fields approaches the girl, she is sitting quietly. He quickly muscles her out of her seat and throws her across the room.”
That gives you the more or less broad strokes of the incident, which is now under investigation by the Justice Department as a civil rights matter. If the presumption of racism strikes you as premature, it will seem even more so when you read the firsthand account of a student in the class who shot one of the videos:
“[I]t was very shocking to see how that was happening, but I honestly think that it was a two way thing and the officer was wrong, but also the girl was wrong. [Emphasis added]
“I was in the front of the room sitting right there when it happened, so that’s what I saw. I’m shocked that something like this happened with students disrespecting elders and law enforcement. They are a higher power, the least you could do is respect them and follow orders.
“She was even told by the students to leave when the administrator came in. We tried to put our input in just to help her.
“Everybody was commenting on something and they weren’t there. They don’t know the full story. I wanted to at least take some of the pressure off of him.”
That student, who has chosen to remain unidentified, is not alone. Today, according to the Daily Beast, hundreds of students who walked out of the school in support of Fields, after he was fired under pressure by Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. As they marched, students chanted “Free Fields” in solidarity with the school resource officer and football coach.
This is not to suggest that Fields didn’t overreact even if, as Lott told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, “When the officer puts his hands on her initially, she reaches up and she pops the officer with her fist.” What it does suggest is that maybe a more in-depth look at what went down is in order before the New York Times declares in print, “For black children, for black people, to exist is to be endangered.”