COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – The South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus held a news conference on Wednesday to address the recent killing of George Floyd and the protests that sparked in our own state afterwards.
“If we can rush to find a vaccine for this Coronavirus, certainly, we ought to be able to resolve this pandemic of racism that has been plaguing us for over 400 years,” JT McLawhorn, with the Columbia Urban League, said.
Members of the state’s Legislative Black Caucus and other community leaders came together, demanding change, after Floyd’s death.
“We cannot simply accept the fact anymore that a police officer did it and so it must be right,” Rep. Todd Rutherford said.
There are three main changes that members of the caucus want to see in South Carolina. Those changes are ones members believe can be implemented right away.
First, they want the state’s current body camera mandate to be fully funded and followed by all law enforcement agencies across the state.
“There is no penalty in our law, currently, if an officer cuts his body camera off or loses the data. We need to fix that and we need to fix that now,” Rep. Rutherford said.
Second, they want a hate crime bill to be passed and signed into law as soon as possible.
“Those who insult, intimidate, or threaten a person because of race, religion, color, sex, age, nationality, sexual orientation or homelessness must be held accountable,” Jerry Govan said.
And, third, they want to review police training guidelines and use-of-force standards. They believe that psychological testing should be required for all officers to ensure that the rights of all citizens are protected.
“We must hold bad police officers accountable and ensure that a police officer fired for misconduct simply cannot become a police officer in another town down the road,” Govan said.
Members of the caucus said they’re proud of the peaceful protests taking place across the state and they don’t want to see them silenced, as they believe the protests are a step in the right direction and putting an end to them would infringe on the constitutional right to gather and assemble.
“We stand with the protesters–not the ones that destroy, but the ones who come together peacefully, demanding that we not move, we will not stop, until the change is made,” Rep. Ivory Thigpen said.
Caucus members said they’d like to see a task force established to reform police practices across the state, but they say it must include a fair representation of the youth in each region of the state.