SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Many people in Spartanburg have been participating in the nation-wide protests after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
7 News spoke with local law enforcement officials and city leaders about the protests.
“We’re in a life-saving business and a life was taken unnecessarily,” Spartanburg Police Chief Alonzo Thompson said.
Chief Thompson told 7 News–as a police officer and a black man–he’s sickened by what happened to George Floyd.
“I’ve been doing this nearly 36 years. I’ve never been trained nor have I trained anyone the technique that I saw deployed in that particular incident,” he said. “It was wrong. We’re better than that.”
He wasn’t the only one upset by Floyd’s death.
“This happens too many times, over and over again,” Spartanburg City Councilwoman Erica Brown said. “We all need to speak up and speak out for justice.”
Protests have sparked across the country, including Chief Thompson’s jurisdiction in Spartanburg.
Many protested in downtown Spartanburg on Sunday and, while the protests were initially peaceful, they escalated late in the evening, with some protestors standing on cars, blocking traffic, and throwing rocks and plastic water bottles at police vehicles, causing damage.
“99-plus percent of us go to work everyday and try to do our jobs the right way at the right time for the right reasons,” Chief Thompson said. “But the bad actors–or even good people who make a bad decision–it costs us.”
Moving forward, the Chief said they will continue to keep an eye on things as they want to protect the constitutional right to gather and assemble, but they also want to protect lives and property. And he said committing crimes during this time is unacceptable.
Local business owners are praying the looting won’t make its way to Spartanburg.
“My trust in all of my fellow human beings would be destroyed if, all of a sudden, there were bricks coming through my business and damage done,” Chris Walker, with Blue Moon Specialty Foods, said.
As protests are expected to continue, Chief Thompson said he has hope that everything will remain peaceful.
“I understand the anger, the frustration, and even the hostility, but I would ask that it be channeled in a way that’s more positive so that we can address some of these issues,” he said.