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‘He’s a Wonderful Teacher’: Students Defend Band Director Arrested for Assaulting Student Who Went on Racist Tirade

Students at a Los Angeles high school are coming to the defense of a music teacher arrested on suspicion of child abuse after a brawl with a 14-year-old student in class Friday.

Maywood Academy High School band teacher Marston Riley, 64, was arrested and charged after causing great bodily injury to a student he pummeled in a classroom clash caught on camera. In the video, Riley is seen decking the teenager in the face before swinging on him a few more times, chasing him around the packed classroom.

Band Teacher Fights Student

Marston Riley was charged with suspicion of child abuse after assaulting a 14-year-old student in class last week. (CBS Los Angeles / video screenshot)

Students and teachers attempt to step in and separate the two, but the band teacher continues to fight and at one point beats the student several times over the head while holding him in a headlock.

Witnesses told CBS Los Angeles the fracas unfolded when the Riley asked the teenager to leave because he wasn’t wearing the proper school uniform. Upset, the student responded with a tirade of profanity and racist insults aimed at the musician.

“You got me f—-d up, my n—a,” the teen says, throwing a basketball at Riley. “Why’s your voice cracking, my n—a? Yeah … you ain’t tough. You ain’t sh-t.”

The teen, who remains unnamed, continues to taunt the teacher and encourages him to hit him. A fuming Riley manages to keep his cool for much of the tirade, but eventually loses it after the student dubs him a “hoe ass b—h.” All hell breaks loose after that.

Riley punches the teen hard, knocking him to the ground. Other students scramble to get out of the way, many of them pulling out their phones to film the student-teacher tussle. The fight lasts about 30 seconds before staff members break it up.

Despite the brawl, some Maywood High students described Riley as a “wonderful” teacher.

“The kid really messed up doing that – calling him the N-word,” student Fabiola Martinez, who didn’t witness the fight, told CBS Los Angeles.

Riley’s longtime neighbor, Greg Jones, expressed similar remarks about the teacher and denounced the student’s racist behavior.

“To make racial slurs, at your own teacher — that’s wrong,” said Jones. “That’s not something that should be taught in school. That should be taught at home.”

One student who spoke with KTLA on the condition of anonymity alleged the whole thing was a setup meant to provoke Riley, who came under fire last year for a fist fight with a different student.

“Everything was planned out …,” the student said. “There were students there who were already taking out their phones to record the incident. I don’t think it’s completely fair that they’re just putting the blame all on (Riley), when I personally know that he’s a good guy.”

Citing arrest records, the station reported that Riley was arrested around 2:30 p.m. Friday and held on $50,000 bail before posting bail on Saturday. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Office is now investigating the incident.

Riley’s supporters have since launched a GoFundMe page to help cover his legal fees. So far, the page has collected more than $26,000 in donations.

L.A. Unified School District addressed the fight in a statement last week:

“We are extremely disturbed by the reports of the events that occurred at Maywood Academy High School. We take this matter very seriously and do not condone violence or intolerance of any kind. Los Angeles Unified is cooperating with law enforcement in investigating this incident. Crisis counselors and additional school police patrols will be at the school on Monday to support our students and staff.”

Watch more in the video below.

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