By Barney Blakeney
2019 was an eventful year. Here are some of its top stories:
In November, the Charleston Police Department received the final report of the Racial Bias Audit conducted by CNA. The audit looked at use of force by the department’s officers over the past five years and found that from 2014-2018 there were about 1,355 incidents of use of force involving 437 officers. Also in November, North Charleston incumbent Mayor Keith Summey won re-election. Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg did the same following a hotly contested runoff election against Councilman Mike Seekings. Charleston City Council District 3 incumbent Councilman James Lewis, Jr. was unseated in that runoff election by Jason Sakran.
June 24, Charleston County School Board met with school district administrators and Mission Critical Action community representatives in a day-long board meeting during which board members received recommendations outlined by Mission Critical Action teams and heard from district administrators. The four Mission Critical Action groups made their presentations that morning and district administrators presented their responses to board directives that afternoon. The board took no significant action about either until its November and December board meetings setting off a firestorm of protests from constituents.
Ultimately recommendations merging elite Buist Academy with predominantly Black Memminger Elementary and closing Charleston Progressive Academy in three years passed. And the board approved clarifying the purpose of all magnet, partial magnet and choice schools and making any needed changes to align with the district’s stated commitment to parent/student preference, quality, opportunity, equity, and access. The county’s legislative delegation is attempting to intercede.
Crime consistently takes a lead role among news stories. And 2019 was no different. By November 18, North Charleston had experienced 24 homicides to lead the County in murders and Charleston County Sheriff Office had 11 murders in its jurisdiction. As of November 18, there had been 50 murders in Charleston County. Charleston has had two additional homicides since that November story.
In February, veteran Charleston lawman, retired U.S. Marshal and former Charleston police and Charleston County detective Fred Stroble died. He was 80. And in October perennial educator Marjorie Hutchinson Howard died at age 107. In November, businessman Ernest A. Murray Sr., owner of Murray’s Links and Meats, died.