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North Charleston Police
Do you think that the North Charleston Police Department has taken appropriate steps towards reform a year after the Walter Scott shooting?
Protesters Hope To Organize Efforts
5/13/2015 3:28:42 PM

Thomas Dixon (left) & Elder Johnson (right)
Staff Reports

Since the April 4 North Charleston police shooting death of Walter Scott, protesters have mounted continual challenges to the city’s administration demanding various concessions in the wake of officer Michael Slager’s video recorded back-shooting of a fleeing Scott.

Among those requests are demands for a special prosecutor and a citizens review board with subpoena power.

Challenges to authorities have included civil disobedience as well as orderly protests conducted by various groups. International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1422/MUSC Healthcare Workers United coordinators have been working to organize protesters into a cohesive group.

Four groups that included the ILA/Health care workers, the North Charleston NAACP, People United To take Back Our Community and the National Action Network have demanded Ninth Judicial Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson recuse herself and a special prosecutor be appointed to the Scott case. Pastor Thomas Dixon has led daily protests in front of Wilson’s downtown Charleston office the past two weeks to force her removal from the case.

Other groups which included Black Lives Matter have staged civil disobedience protests disrupting traffic at North Charleston City Hall and on the Arthur Ravenel Bridge last week when four protesters were arrested.

Groups that have conducted civil disobedience protests have been both criticized and applauded. While some local observers say civil disobedience protests alienate potential supporters others maintain that stemming the growing tide of unwarranted police shootings is not a matter of convenience and that disruption of the community’s business as usual routine should be the goal of effective protest.

Labor organizer Leonard Riley said various protest groups met four hours last weekend in hopes of establishing a broad coalition with identified goals and demands. Without minimizing any group’s autonomy, the coalition hopes a combined effort can generate the leverage necessary to force authorities to accept and meet their demands.

“We need the community to understand that we’re not advocating violence, but we want the city to know that we’re serious about our demands and that peaceful protests doesn’t mean we will accept their inaction,” Riley said Monday.

The scope of future protests could include anything from civil disobedience to economic boycotts, Riley said. “We’re discussing goals, strategies and how we can broaden our impact. Some of our goals may be obtainable over the long term and some can be obtained right now.

“Whatever we do will require people to show up for the protests. If you don’t make any noise, you won’t get any grease. We know we can’t just sit back and suffer this blatant case of murder. Walter Scott’s murder is a game-changer. We won’t go away until something happens,” Riley said.

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