ACLU SC Calls on Charleston Area Law Enforcement Leaders to Apologize for Using Excessive Force Against Non-Violent Protestors

The ACLU of South Carolina (ACLU SC) June 2 sent a letter to the leaders of law enforcement agencies whose officers participated in violent actions against non-violent protestors in Charleston on Sunday. The letter summarizes violent actions taken by law enforcement and witnessed firsthand by ACLU SC and calls for a public apology for officers’ actions, plan for investigating and holding officers who used excessive force accountable, and steps agencies will take to protect and ensure the fundamental right to protest.

“On Sunday we witnessed firsthand law enforcement respond to non-violent protest with violence,” said ACLU SC Executive Director Frank Knaack. “Let us be clear. The violence we witnessed came from law enforcement itself. We observed as police officers actively pursued peaceful protestors, making arrests and firing projectiles and chemicals. The brutality we witnessed matches additional complaints we have received from individuals in Charleston and other parts of South Carolina. These actions were clear, dangerous, and counterproductive responses to people exercising their Constitutional rights. We are calling on local law enforcement leaders to apologize for their brutal response and to outline the steps they will take to hold their officers accountable and ensure their officers respect and protect the fundamental right to protest.”

The protest in Charleston yesterday was one of many occuring from coast-to-coast in response to the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department. 

“The ACLU of South Carolina is united in solidarity with Minneapolis, Louisville, and all the communities reeling from the murders of Black people by police,” Knaack continued. “We will not rest until there is an end to racist policing and real justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and all who came before them and, unfortunately, will likely come after them.” 

Recipients of the letter include:

  • Sheriff S. Duane Lewis, Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office
  • Sheriff James Alton Cannon, Jr., Charleston County Sheriff’s Office
  • Chief Luther T. Reynolds, Charleston Police Department
  • Chief Carl Ritchie, Mount Pleasant Police Department 
  • Chief Mark Keel, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division

The letter can be found here.

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