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Local Groups Picket Senator Offices Over Trump Nominations
2/1/2017 5:59:32 PM

North Charleston Branch NAACP President Ed Bryant III, National Action Network V.P. of Religious Affairs and External Relations, Rev. Nelson Rivers III and SC National Action Network President Elder James Johnson head to the office of Senator Tim Scott at North Charleston City Hall to deliver petition signatures opposing recent nominations by President Donald Trump. Photo: Tolbert Smalls, Jr.

Local constituents protest outside of Sen. Tim Scott’s offices at North Charleston City Hall January 30. Photo: Tolbert Smalls, Jr.
By Barney Blakeney

The North Charleston Branch NAACP this week led local participants in picketing the offices of U.S. Senators Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham to show opposition to the nominations of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for U.S. Attorney General and charter school advocate Betsey DeVos as Secretary of the Department of Education. The pickets conducted Monday and Tuesday coincided with others staged around the state and nation.

North Charleston Branch NAACP President Ed Bryant said his organization coordinated the pickets with cooperation from North Charleston-based National Action Network and The Coalition (People United To Take Back Our Community) members. It’s uncertain if members of other local NAACP branches participated in the pickets.

Charleston Branch NAACP President Dot Scott would not comment and Goose Creek Branch NAACP President Veronica Dukes was unavailable for comment by press time. In a Jan. 27 email to all local branches, S.C. Conference of NAACP Branches 1st Vice President Marian Miller and Exec. Dir. Dwight James said, “We are calling upon you to fulfill your pledge to stand and fight for justice. The most troubling of the cabinet appointments made by the newly confirmed president of the United States represent major treats to our fundamental rights as Americans. These include Jeff Sessions whose nomination is pending for U.S. Attorney General and Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick to head the US Department of Education.

“The NAACP opposes these nominees because their policy positions and temperament make them unfit to hold such high office in our Nation. As residents of South Carolina, we are calling upon you to contact Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott to insist that they also reject these nominees. Votes are anticipated beginning early next week in the Senate to attempt to confirm them. We cannot be silent on these matters – nor should our members, friends and partners. It is time to make them feel the pressure that can be brought by the oldest civil rights organization in the world.

“The Washington Bureau has prepared background material that you can disperse throughout the community and online.  Most of all we need calls, emails and faxes to show our dissatisfaction with these nominees.”

The conference followed Sunday with a statement to the press stating, “We encourage all branches and youth units to support this direct action by sending members to the site closest to them on both days.  Share the action alerts issued by the NAACP Washington Bureau with your volunteers to give them additional context for this initiative opposing the approval of the nominees for U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Secretary of Education.”

Bryant said his branch members obtained and delivered some 600 letters from writers opposing the nominations to Scott’s North Charleston office Monday. About the same number of letters was delivered to Graham’s office, he said. Additionally, callers inundated both offices with telephone calls Monday and Tuesday, Bryant said. Both senators have supported the nominations to President Donald Trump’s cabinet. Bryant said he feels the opposition being mounted against them may be effective.

“We opposed Sessions’ nomination to become a federal court judge in 1986 and defeated him. There’s no reason why we won’t be effective now,” Bryant said. Sessions, the senate’s 15th most senior member and is considered one of the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate. As a senator, he is noted for his opposition to illegal immigration and advocacy of reducing legal immigration.

Bryant challenged Scott’s support of Sessions noting Scott recently publicly told of personal experiences as the victim of discrimination. “Why, with his experience with discrimination, would Scott support someone who so obviously facilitates discrimination?” Bryant asserted. “This effort is nationwide. I hope Congress gets the message,” he said.

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