CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Protesters with the United Front of Charleston on Saturday gathered in front of Dock Street Theatre to interrupt Spoleto Festival USA events, hoping to shift the focus back to the death of Jamal Sutherland, a mentally ill man who died during an encounter with deputies at the Al Cannon Detention Center.
While the deputies were fired following the release of body camera footage of the incident, they have yet to be criminally charged. The group is calling for swifter action from Ninth Circuit Solicitor, Scarlett Wilson.
Protester Rose Marie said that they chose the location because they “don’t think that people should be comfortable sitting in that theatre knowing that this county has killed a man.”
A spokesperson on behalf of Spoleto Festival USA said that it supported the group’s right to protest, offering the following statement:
“As a nonprofit performing arts organization, our mission is to uplift and amplify the voices of artists and provide a platform for expression. Protest and the act of protesting are not only human rights, but they are also necessary means of expression, catalysts for change, and, in many ways, the most fundamental forms of artistic freedom. We support the protesters’ rights to have their voices heard.“
The spokesperson also clarified that the statement was on behalf of Spoleto Festival USA, not the City of Charleston or Piccolo Spoleto.