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Do you think that the North Charleston Police Department has taken appropriate steps towards reform a year after the Walter Scott shooting?
Black Lives Matter Charleston response to Gov. Haley
9/3/2015 10:35:35 PM

From the Desk of Black Lives Matter Charleston

Governor Haley,

We agree with one thing you said...."We should all listen to each other more".

I am an organizer with Black Lives Matter-Charleston. We were present and first respondents for Justice after the murder of Walter Scott by a supposed 'officer of the law'. We were ones who held the first demonstrations, who believed in the Scott family, who defended the integrity of Walter Scott, while Michael Slager, his co-conspirators, and media colluded to manufacture the 'I feared for my life' story, criminalize, and dehumanize him. We demonstrated not only out of anger and disgust, but strategically with solutions and recommendations.

The vacuum in between the murder and the arrest was made short by the quick thinking of Black Lives Matter-Charleston activists on the ground who facilitated the meeting of the Scott family and Feidin Santana. We then focused upon healing the broken Trust between the community and police by bringing forth our request for a Citizens Review Board with Subpoena powers. We were constructive, diligent, and strategic in our actions, and thus inspired many to show up and express our voice through the political process. Therefore, the coalition building work of pulling 20 organizations together to support the Policy Recommendations, resulted in the formation of the North Charleston Civil Coalition for Reform.

As a coalition we have held Town Hall's, voter registration drives, and presentations to Mayor Summey and city council. This ground work, the quick decision making of activists closest to the event, and the strategic this elevation of the Peoples Agenda into Political space was the sole reason North Charleston didn’t experience more civil unrest. This is the Truth and Reality from someone who was in the middle of it all. We led with utmost civility and Trust in our political process.

Yet the Trust has been unrequited...'Are you listening?' I think not. Yet through all of this constructive Black Lives Matter-Charleston organizing work in your home state, you choose to take credit for a lack of civil unrest, to parade around as if any political decision was a cause for us choosing the strategy we did? This lack of careful understanding of the circumstances surrounding the aftermath of Walter Scott's murder clearly shows the degree of disconnectedness you have when saying that the 'Black Lives Matter movement is hurting people of color'. You need to listen more.

We need you to tell Mayor Summey that "We should all listen to each other more". Since the first days after and for weeks, and months since the murder of Walter Scott, we have requested to be an Agenda Item at City council to present our recommendations to the public and city council. That request has still not been met. Instead, on June 2nd Mayor Summey wrote us that it would be okay for our “presentations to occur before the Public Safety Committee…Ten minutes will be allotted to you on that agenda”. In that 10 minutes he further stipulated that only 1 of us could speak and that there would be no dialogue from council on any of the points.

There were no clarifying questions, no discourse, and no democratic conversation that is normally practiced for anyone else presenting. “We should all listen to each other more”. I myself told you, Governor Haley, at the presentation of the signing of the Body Camera bill that the Mayor was stifling the voice of the people in response to the Walter Scott murder…Were you listening?

It does not sound like it. I am going to say something that is fundamental to understanding the Black Lives Matter Movement, Listen closely: We are not only interested in racial tolerance, racial equality, or civil rights. And we quite frankly are not interested in the commentary of your ‘racially tolerant party’. We are not so fickle to fall into the ‘tendency to falsely equate noise with results’, no matter how pretty and well-intentioned that noise is.

You know the state of Racial Equity in our State and even with that knowledge we must conclude that you do not believe that ‘Black Lives Matter!’ We are a movement centered on progress not access, we want self-determination not recognition, and equity not equality. Our politics are unapologetic Truth not respectability. It will be the Truth, not political maneuvering, that makes us free, and will make you free too... if you choose to tell it.

Black Lives Matter –Charleston is a movement of Truth and Reconciliation. The Truth is that whether it was chattel slavery, Black Codes, Jim Crow, the legalizing of ‘criminal slavery’ in the 13th amendment, the ‘War on drugs’, or the War on Voting rights, this country, this State especially, has a heritage of practicing state-sanctioned violence, through Law and Law enforcement in order to maintain social inequity between European settler colonialist and those brought here of African descent. These are facts and as such are not controversial.

I agree with you that the controversial ‘race-baiting political points’ are distractions and manipulative. I'm confused as to why then it’s method of choice for the republican created ‘Southern Strategy’, to keep poor whites racially polarized against non-whites. Ask Lee Atwater. This is the Truth. For the sake of brevity and to save our fair state from further embarrassment of its legacy of white supremacy, I will not enumerate here the racial inequities perpetuated by unjust laws, practices, and procedures, let us move to solutions. So what is needed for the reconciliation part?

Governor Haley, ‘We should all listen to each other more’ through democratically constructive public discourse. It is primarily misunderstanding from ‘selective listening’ to campaign financed special interests that leads to political manipulation and creates the conditions of civil unrest and mistrust. Through our experiences here of witnessing white supremacist terrorism, state sanctioned by Michael Slager or an ideological adherent in Dylan Roof, it is safe to say that we need some deep listening and dialogue that will result in substantial healing. Yet, instead of capitalizing on the opportunities for healing Trust, we are witnessing Political exploitation of our pain in furthering political inequity.

In North Charleston, we have been requesting audience for our recommendations to move forward together. We have put forth mechanisms to review, remove, and reform the Laws, practices, policies, and procedures that structurally reproduce inequity in our social order. A Citizen Review Board w/Subpoena powers would help us greatly towards the goal of healing with an Institution dedicated to repairing and maintaining Trust and Legitimacy while ensuring Truth and Accountability in our society.

Through this mechanism we can ‘listen to each other more, for the expressed intent of reconciliation. It is the people that give government the Power to create laws, and when those Laws are unjust, it will be the people, noisy or otherwise,that will call the government to be accountable to change those laws, polices, practices and procedures.

Governor Haley, if you are indeed serious about not falling into the ‘tendency to falsely equate noise with results' then please consider an invitation from Black Lives Matter-Charleston to discuss the structural adjustments, the key indicators, and collaborative framework necessary to institute Truth and Reconciliation through Citizen Review Boards in South Carolina. We need results not the noise of political rhetoric.

Mayor Summey, 'don’t worry about the meeting and please don't misconstrue our silence for apathy, on November 3rd we will vote our voice: #‎YourTimeIsUp!'

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