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Can, Will Black Community Respond To Summey Threat?
11/18/2015 3:53:19 PM

Charleston Branch NAACP president Dot Scott (podium) makes remarks at a press conference at North Charleston City Hall November 11. National Action Network Vice President of Religious Affairs and External Relations Rev. Nelson Rivers, III called the press conference demanding an apology from North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey. Photo: Tolbert Smalls, Jr.
By Barney Blakeney

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey sounded a little like the television character ‘Boss Hogg’ when during his Nov. 3 election victory speech he promised retribution against those who waged what he considers a nasty campaign to unseat him. But beyond initial outrage, an indignant Black community largely has taken a wait and see attitude about Summey’s comments to exact retribution.

After Summey made public statements he would seek vengeance for allegations of nepotism, cronyism and favoritism in his administration made on the campaign trail, leaders of local civil rights organizations condemned the remarks.

During his victory speech Summey said the election was nasty, that he will not forget the nastiness and that there will be future retributions for it.

Summey did not say specifically who would be the targets of his retribution.

Charleston NAACP President and Summey critic Dot Scott said the easy speculation is that Summey’s threat was made in reference to his most ardent challenger John Singletary, but more likely, the threat includes anyone who doesn’t support him as mayor. “He’s saying anybody he thinks crosses him will see retribution,” Scott said.

North Charleston NAACP President Ed Bryant said Summey demonstrated unmitigated gall making the statement.

Last week National Action Network Vice President for Religious Affairs and External Relations, Rev. Nelson Rivers, and S.C. State Director Elder James Johnson held a press conference to respond to Summey’s “threats of retribution and threats to withhold city services”. They asked for an apology.

Summey’s comments seemed a flashback to ‘good ole boys politics and flagrant voter suppression against African Americans for being uppity enough to vote against the ‘boss’, NAN said. “We come to tell the mayor this is 2015 and not 1965 and that the old ways of disrespect and intimidation are over,” they said in a prepared statement.

“We are here to remind Mayor Summey he is the chief public servant of North Charleston, his comments made it appear he may think this is his city and the citizens are to serve him ... of greater concern is the mayor’s threat of retribution which could be seen as an attempt to retaliate against Black voters. Further, his talk of retribution may intimidate Black voters and candidates. Therefore we have asked the Department of Justice to determine if they should be viewed as voter intimidation.”

Summey offered an apology two days later explaining that in his remarks he meant his administration would assist communities willing to work with it and move beyond those which would not. Chicora/Cherokee Neighborhood Association President A.J. Davis said Summey’s threatening comments indicated some form of deliberate action would be meted out and pointed to Summey’s use of the term retribution.

“Unless there is some effort to monitor the administration, I don’t know what the Black community is going to do or how it should respond,” Davis said Monday.

One observer who asked anonymity said he doesn’t anticipate any consequences coming as a result of Summey’s comments. “There has been no effort to organize the community for any kind of response besides making statements. The Black community didn’t come out to vote so there’s no reason for Summey to fear any retribution from our community. The election showed our community is split between those who have allegiance to him and those who feel he does nothing for us,” the observe said.

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