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Berkeley County deputy reportedly tells Cane Bay student to stand for Pledge of Allegiance

Cane Bay Pledge of Allegiance Incident

The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office has released redacted school surveillance video of an incident involving one of its deputies, who reportedly told a Cane Bay Middle School student recently to stand up during the Pledge of Allegiance, but the student refused.

In the video above, the unidentified deputy is seen walking into the front office of Cane Bay Middle School. When the Pledge of Allegiance begins, the deputy can be seen addressing a student who remained seated during the pledge.

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After the brief interaction, the deputy walks past the student, and stands at the front desk. A full minute later, the student left the office. The video doesn't show any further interaction between the deputy and the student after the deputy first spoke to the boy.

The video provided by the sheriff's office does not have audio, so it's unclear what the deputy said in the initial interaction with the student, or if the deputy addressed the student again later.

Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis said in a press conference Wednesday morning that his office has launched an internal investigation of the incident after the child's father reportedly filed a complaint about it.

According to Lewis, the deputy says he simply asked the student to stand up for the pledge, and nothing more. The child was not disciplined in any way, and there was no physical contact between the boy and the deputy, Lewis says.

"Nothing happened to him other than a conversation – a few second conversation that the deputy had with the student. That’s really what it amounts to," Lewis said. "He was just asked to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. It’s that simple."

Lewis said sheriff's office investigators aren't sure yet if the student had done this before in a classroom setting.

Sitting and kneeling as a form of protest during the Star Spangled Banner, the Pledge of Allegiance, and other patriotic ceremonies has been a common occurence nationally in recent months, most notably among professional athletes who say they want to draw attention to inequalities in the United States.

Lewis declined to elaborate specifically on that national trend, but did make it clear he didn't think the deputy was wrong for asking the student to stand for the pledge, if that's truly all the deputy did.

"Honestly — and this is my personal opinion — a lot of people have died for our freedom, and for the freedom of that flag, and I don’t think it’s too much to ask that people stand up and recognize it," Lewis said. "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 of this county — to stand up for the flag. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to. He was not made to. Nobody put their hands on him. There was no discipline. Nothing happened. I don’t see anything wrong with it."

Lewis says the deputy remains on active duty pending the outcome of the sheriff's office's internal investigation.

"It was a harmless conversation that he had with the student," Lewis said. "I’m not taking a deputy off the street for that."

Sheriff Lewis said he didn’t know if the deputy was aware of a state law saying people are not required to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

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