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Pupils Defend Santa Monica Teacher Who Had Wild Fight With Student Over 'Drug Dealing'

09/04/2014 12:40 BST | Updated 09/04/2014 12:59 BST

Students have stepped in to defend their teacher who has been suspended after wrestling a pupils to the ground after he allegedly tried to sell drugs in class.

Mark Black, a wrestling coach and science teacher at Santa Monica High School, is shown on a video dragging the student to the ground, crashing into tables and chairs as the rest of the class watches on in horror.

According to students at the school, the student appearing in the video took the first swing at the teacher, punching him in the face.

"The wrestling coach thought this kid had drugs on him," one student told reporters. "He confronted him about it and the kid said 'get off me' and pushed the coach."

Another added: "The little boy was selling drugs in class and the teacher told him to stop."

Teenager Blair Moore has since pleaded not guilty to assault and drug possession charges in connection with the fight. A 16-year-old has also been named as a suspect.

Now, students and parents alike are campaigning to get the teacher reinstated in school. A Facebook page called 'We support coach Black of Samohi' has had more than 20,000 likes and a "community peace gathering" for the coach is being held at the weekend.

Sandra Lyon, Santa Monica-Malibu police superintendent released a statement saying: "A deeply disturbing incident involving a teacher and student occurred in a classroom at Santa Monica High School, resulting in the Santa Monica Police Department being called to the campus. A number of videos capturing at least a portion of the incident are circulating, and I can tell you that what I witnessed on one of those videos is utterly alarming.

"Based on what I have viewed the kind of physical restraint used by the teacher is unacceptable. I have placed the teacher on leave pending the outcome of an independent investigation."

Students have also set up a petition on Change.org calling for Lyon to apologise for her "biased, inflammatory response".