Tour guide arrested, allegedly assaulted woman over ‘treatment of carriage animals’ banner

Local News
John Gordon Polk_1550090196961.png.jpg

CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) – A man has been arrested after a woman said she was assaulted outside her home on Wentworth Street last week.

On February 7th, Ellen Harley said she was verbally and physically attacked outside her downtown home because of a banner hanging on her driveway gate.

The banner, she said in a press release, promotes the humane treatment of carriage animals.

In a press release detailing the incident, it shows the suspect stopped his vehicle in front of Harley’s home before honking and shouting that her because he was upset about the banner’s message.

According to a police report, Mrs. Harley began taking pictures of the man and his license plate, and he allegedly slapped her hand, knocking the cellphone to the ground.

On Wednesday, Charleston Police Department spokesman, Charles Francis announced 39-year-old John Gordon Polk surrendered to police at their downtown headquarters.

Polk works as a certified tour guide for Classic Carriage Works, according to his Facebook profile.

He is charged with simple assault and given a $1,087 bond. No one was hurt during the incident.

The member companies of Charleston C.A.R.E.S. (Carriage Association for Responsible Equine Safety) released a statement on Wednesday in response to the arrest.

“We are shocked and deeply disturbed by the news of the recent altercation in downtown Charleston. There is no room in a civil society for violence or hateful rhetoric. While we are still gathering the facts, we do know this was a private, after-hours dispute that did not involve any of our member companies. The heated rhetoric surrounding this issue in our great city has gone on for too long and must end now. The member companies of Charleston C.A.R.E.S. strongly condemn this kind of behavior and are glad no one was injured. We believe Mr. Polk should no longer serve as a tour guide in the City of Charleston.”

The Charleston Carriage Association for Responsible Equine Safety (C.A.R.E.S)  is an organization made up of the three largest horse carriage companies in Charleston: Palmetto Carriage Works, Old South Carriage Company and Charleston Carriage Works. The organization is committed to developing and promoting the highest standard for Charleston’s horse-drawn carriage community.

Classic Carriage Works also released a statement:

“Classic Carriage Works does not condone the actions of anyone involved in the recent altercation between one of our tour guides and a well/known anti-carriage antagonizer. We hope that the authorities will do their due diligence and interview witnesses from all sides in order to find the truth behind the accusations. The standard of care provided to the working horses of Charleston is a sensitive subject to all parties involved in this matter. As always, Classic Carriage Works (and all companies in the Charleston carriage industry) will continue to focus on and provide the highest standard of care to our amazing and well loved herd of horses.”

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