In late October, a video of a South Carolina officer flipping a young black student out of her desk took the Internet by storm, igniting controversy and rage at the continued brutality and injustice toward black individuals. Now, months after the incident with no official case brought against the police officer, supporters have channeled that incitement into forming a petition, calling for him to be prosecuted for his actions.
Activist organizations Color of Change, the Alliance for Educational Justice, and the Justice for the Spring Valley Two Coalition helped form the petition, which earned 150,000 signatures, Newsweek reports. The organizations delivered the petition to Solicitor Dan Johnson at the Richland County Justice Center in Columbia, S.C. on Thursday afternoon.
The officer, later identified as Ben Fields, was fired from his position at the high school for misconduct, but was not charged for the incident. But the firing is enough action for the event that severely injured a high school teen, according to the petition. The motion is seeking legal justice.
“The entire nation reacted with disgust and disbelief at the video of Officer Ben Fields violently assaulting [the student in the desk] and arresting Niya for videotaping the incident,” Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, said in a statement. “Even though Fields was fired for his actions, the arrests he made are still being treated as though they are legitimate. These two young women have suffered enough without the justice system dragging out the process of eliminating these ridiculous charges.”
Although the petition has gained a massive backing, it seems as though it will not alter the current standing of the case. Johnson offered a statement after receiving the petition: “Until we receive the FBI’s findings at the conclusion of their investigation, the incident involving Ben Fields is not a pending case within the Richland County Solicitor’s Office. Please be advised that the cases involving the students and the FBI investigation involving Ben Fields are inextricably linked. Therefore, while one is under investigation, the others cannot be resolved and will not go forward. No prosecution decisions in these cases will be made, nor can they be fairly made, until all investigations are complete, and all evidence is collected and assessed according to the relevant laws.”
The incident has joined a long list of unfortunate hashtags this year. But as the FBI further investigates this case, hopefully some justice will be brought to the victim.