Charleston County sheriff candidate speaks out against use of force during peaceful protests

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – A candidate running for Charleston County Sheriff is speaking out about law enforcement reaction to mostly peaceful protests.

Kristin Graziano, who is running to replace Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon, said she has watched in ‘disbelief’ and ‘great sadness’ as law enforcement use aggressive and provoking tactics against mostly peaceful protests locally and across the country.

“It sends the wrong message to the community,” said Graziano in a statement Thursday. “These combative tactics are just a symptom to the larger issue, which started the protests in the first place.”

She said now is the time to take advantage of the moment in order to produce real, tangible reform in law enforcement. 

Peaceful protesters have marched in the Lowcountry for the past several days to bring light to police inequalities and department reform. It comes after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man who was killed while in law enforcement custody in Minneapolis.

While many of the local protests have remained calm, demonstrations on Saturday, Sunday and again on Monday escalated with officers using tear gas and making arrests.

Video that went viral on social media showed a peaceful protester sharing a message of love and then suddenly arrested by officers in Marion Square.

Representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union, who have been in the Lowcountry to monitor the protests, are requesting an apology from local law enforcement after they deployed tear gas against the mostly peaceful protesters.

“Now is not the time to lead with a gun, a baton, or tear gas,” said Graziano. “This moment calls for leadership from the heart and soul.”

Graziano has spent 32 years in law enforcement. She was placed on paid leave earlier this year after announcing she planned to run against Cannon.

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