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Violent Protest Here Possible, But Unlikely
5/6/2015 4:05:39 PM

Protesters in Baltimore break the window of a police car in wake of death of Freddie Gray. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Agence France-Presse

Protesters at rally at North Charleston City Hall in aftermath of Walter Scott death. Photo by Tolbert Smalls, Jr
By Barney Blakeney

Last weekend gangs of young Blacks roamed downtown Charleston streets victimizing passers-by and disturbing neighborhoods and residents. Several people either were robbed or assaulted. But if you’re thinking the mini-mob scene was a precursor to the kind of violent protest recently experienced in some other cities, forget about it.

“It was just a large group of kids leaving a private party at the YWCA. It didn’t have anything to do with Ferguson or Baltimore,” said Charleston police spokesman Charles Francis.

This reporter was assigned to ask local residents if the possibility of violent protest exists in the local community.

Several respondents agree the potential exists, but the likelihood is slim.

Charleston NAACP Vice President Rev. Joseph Darby said he doesn’t think it will happen here for a couple of reasons: the video of Officer Michael Slager back-shooting Walter Scott led to Slager’s quick arrest and, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey realizes this is an election year and will take the necessary steps to protect his incumbency.

The branch’s President Dot Scott also feels the video of Slager shooting Scott helped to prevent any violent response to the incident. But she added, “ We’re coming into the summer and there’s a lot of stored up frustration. Violent protest still is in the realm of the possible.”

Downtown resident Elizabeth Jenkins said she’d love to see what’s happened in Baltimore occur here - ongoing peaceful protests.

“They’re demanding change. I hope we’ll do the same thing here. To achieve change we need to protest. The Walter Scott incident has brought about a new discussion among political candidates up for election in November. We should build on that,” Jenkins said.

Two of the lead co-ordinators of local protests have been Rev. Thomas Dixon of The Coalition (People United To take Back Our Community) and Elder James Johnson of the National Action Network. Both agree violent protest is possible, but should be discouraged.

Dixon said the potential for violent protest has existed and continues to exist, but the local community caught a break with the unexpected release of the video recording of Slager shooting Scott. North Charleston officials already had begun to go into coverup mode, he said, but the smoke screen that could have ignited violence was dissipated.

That flash point still may be reached if local authorities don’t righteously address calls for a new prosecutor and vehemently pursue a conviction in the case, Dixon said. Protesters are demanding some reforms, but authorities are not making any concessions. The longer they delay, the greater the potential for violent protest, he warns.

Johnson said there may be violent protest if Slager is acquitted, but the greatest potential for violence was when the incident first occurred. Johnson said his greatest outrage comes from the fact that people from outside the local community came in to demand accountability when some of the most prominent members of the local community, especially leaders of our largest church congregations, remained silent.

“We had hundreds of people attend services and town hall meetings, but none of those people put boots on the ground when it was time to protest in the streets. They came out for Sharpton and Clyburn, but not for Scott,” he said.

Visitor Comments

Submitted By: Sharkeisha Shabazz Submitted: 5/6/2015
Just some "kids" leaving a party? Robbing and assaulting people? I'll bet their victims were all white. This is absolutely connected to Ferguson and Baltimore. The feral black teens have been emboldened. They are engaged in their own style of jihad now, based on the notion that they are some kind of protected species with special rights and privileges regardless of their behavior.

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