ABC has defended Raven-Symoné, in response to a petition calling for The View co-host’s resignation that has collected more than 120,000 signatures.

Symoné courted controversy after she partially defended the South Carolina police officer who dragged a female high school student from her classroom last week.

Before the Richland County sheriff’s department fired the officer, Ben Fields, Symoné said the teenager may have deserved to be treated that way.

“We don’t know what she said, but she did not get up,” Symoné said. “They called [Fields] as a last resort. He talked to her for 30 seconds and she still didn’t get up. She still didn’t put the phone away.

“You do not need to be manhandling a child that way, but at the same time, kids, put your phones away.”

Her comments inspired Change.org user Che Scott-Heron to create a petition addressed to The View’s executive producer, Barbara Walters, calling for Symoné to be removed from the show.

“African Americans and black people around the diaspora need a voice representative of their views and not a voice representative of what white people want us to say,” the petition reads.

“We need strong black role models in prominent positions on television and Raven-Symoné cannot provide that.”

As of Sunday afternoon, the petition had collected more than 126,500 signatures. On Saturday, ABC released a statement.

“We love Raven,” the network said. “She is confident, genuine and opinionated, all qualities that make her a great addition to the panel.”

The View’s co-hosts are known for making controversial statements. Symoné has upheld the tradition since joining the show in June. Last month, she apologized after saying she would not hire a person with a “ghetto” name.

Her father, Christopher B Pearman, said on Facebook that his daughter’s comments about “ghetto” names were an “inexcusable gaffe”.

“Her Mother and I love her very much and will always support her and have her back,” he wrote. “Even if sometimes … she says some dumb S#%T!”

This article titled “ABC defends Raven-Symoné as petition demands her resignation from The View” was written by Amanda Holpuch in New York, for theguardian.com on Sunday 1st November 2015 20.24 UTC

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