A South Carolina sheriff is defending one of his deputies who he said asked a middle schooler to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance earlier this month — but the boy's father called the deputy's actions "inappropriate" and filed a complaint with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office, WCSC-TV reported.
- The sheriff's office released surveillance video of the Nov. 3 incident in the Cane Bay Middle School office during which the deputy — a fill-in school resource officer — spoke to the student, the station said.
- When the Pledge of Allegiance was played over the loudspeaker, the deputy stood and placed his hand over his heart, WCSC said.
- Sheriff Duane Lewis said everyone in the office stood — except for the student, the station reported.
- The deputy then approached the student and asked him to stand, Lewis added.
Image source: WCSC-TV video screenshot
What's not clear?
- While Lewis told reporters the student sat during the pledge, WCSC reported that the student allegedly took a knee.
- It also isn't clear if the student ended up standing in response to the deputy.
- The sheriff's office on Thursday didn't immediately respond to TheBlaze's requests for clarification.
What else did the sheriff say?
- Lewis told WCSC the deputy hasn't been taken off the street and that he doesn't believe the deputy did anything wrong amid the "harmless" 15-second interaction with the student.
- The sheriff emphasized that the student was "asked" to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, adding that "he wasn't ordered to, he wasn't made to, we didn't put our hands on him ... it's that simple."
- "It appears to me this was not a police action that was taken," Lewis said, according to the station. "The child was not disciplined, he was not taken out of the office, nothing happened to him other than a conversation ... and that's really what it amounts to."
Sheriff Duane Lewis (Image source: WCSC-TV video screenshot)
- While Lewis said he isn't sure if the deputy knows state law lets students refuse to stand for the pledge, the sheriff said "a lot of people have died for our freedom and for the freedom of that flag" and that standing for the pledge isn't "too much to ask."
- "I don't think there's anything wrong with asking the kid to stand up when you're in a public-funded school, paid for by the taxpayers in this county, to stand up for the flag," Lewis added, WCSC reported.
- But the sheriff said his office is investigating the incident.
How did the student's father react?
- The boy's father — who, along with the deputy, wasn't named — said in a statement the school first filed a complaint against the deputy with the sheriff's office, WCSC reported.
- And then when the father got wind of the "facts," he filed a complaint supporting the school's complaint.
- The father characterized the deputy's actions as "inappropriate" and said his son's actions during the pledge "had nothing to do with patriotism or support of the military or President Trump."
- The school district on Thursday didn't immediately respond to a message from TheBlaze.