CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Representative Jerry N. Govan, the Chair of the SC Legislative Black Caucus, released a statement regarding the death of George Floyd, subsequent protests, and the unraveling of some protests into riots.
Rep. Govan said that the Legislative Black Caucus “unequivocally condemns violence and destruction in all forms.” He said that “rioting and looting…must be prevented and those responsible must be held accountable under the law.” He went on to add that “nonviolence is the only way forward….The message of justice must be heard – and any distraction that takes away from the message only hurts our people.”
He acknowledged the “cost of racism,” evident in the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, and many more. Rep. Govan said that while people should be outraged, “we must use our righteous outrage to build a better world.” He drew a parallel between those using violence in the protests, and members of law enforcement using excessive violence:
“Let me be clear: these rioters represent represent just a few bad apples…similarly, we believe that racist police officers represent just a few bad apples in law enforcement organizations. The difference here is that we have measures in place to swiftly hold criminals accountable.”
One of the best ways to hold law enforcement accountable, according to Rep. Govan, is to “ensure that they body camera mandate is fully-funded and followed” by all agencies. He believes that the law benefits both victims and officers, as “we know the power of video to hold police misconduct accountable, as well as to protect police officers who uphold their duty to the people they serve.”
A hate crimes bill, reforms in law enforcement training, and a statewide commission on reforming police and law enforcement practices were a few additional solutions put forth by Rep. Govan.
He was realistic about his expectations, noting “we understand that these reforms, if adopted, will not solve every problem at once. Systemic change takes time and lal people of goodwill must be ready to engage in work that will be counted not by days, but by years.”
To conclude, Rep. Govan called upon all elected leaders in SC, asking everyone “black and white – to stand up for justice and begin the long process of reform.”