COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Protests continue across South Carolina this week, from Greenville to Charleston, protesters marched, sang songs, and held signs highlighting police inequalities.
It comes after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man who died in police custody in Minneapolis.
What started off peacefully turned violent after, what law enforcement says, was outside agitators causing energy to shift in both Columbia and Charleston over the weekend.
“We saw the flag being burned, we saw cars being burned, we saw officers being injured. At some point we had to take the city to make sure the city was gonna be safe,” said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.
In the state capitol, many of those arrested are from Georgia and New York according to police.
Kershaw County Sheriff Lee Boan marched with protesters in Columbia on Monday. Sheriff Boan said he believes it’s a positive thing for law enforcement to march with protesters.
He said protesters trust law enforcement will not use tear gas or fire weapons so long as they remain peaceful.
In Myrtle Beach, Mayor Brenda Bethune is crediting her city’s curfew with helping keep protests peaceful.
Police say they arrested 26 people on Sunday. Seven now face disorderly conduct charges. The rest, including three people under the age of 18, are charged with violating curfew.
Mayor Bethune talked about this weekend’s protests Monday saying, “When I look around at other protests across our state, and across the country we are so grateful, but I think that has a lot to do with the planning that was in place and the way our police department handled the situation.”
Georgetown County Sheriff Carter Weaver also walked with peaceful protesters in Pawleys Island.
Attorney General Alan Wilson issued a statement on Monday vowing to protect protesters who follow the law.
The statement also said his office is working to identify organized groups that may instigate violence or property damage.
South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus Chair, State Representative Jerry Govan, also released a statement on the protests turning violent saying change has already happened here in South Carolina.
He goes on to say, “In the aftermath of a white supremacist terror attack, we removed the Confederate flag from the State Capitol. In response to Walter Scott’s shooting by a police officer, we passed a law requiring police to wear body cameras. However, more must be done.”
A statement from South Carolina NAACP State Conference President Brenda C. Murphy says in part:
“The SC NAACP will continue to work with our local and state law enforcement officers to eradicate racism; while respecting diversity.”