Posts Tagged ‘South Carolina’

July 4th Reflections on the Confederate Flag

July 4, 2015

It has been several years, and I plan to re-post this every year until we are free from that flag. Thank you.

Pamela Kay Noble Brown

July 4th stands for freedom and independence.  Upon reflection, those who favor the Confederate flag flying on the State Capitol grounds of Columbia, South Carolina, do have this right.  But why in the name of compassion and empathy would they want to?

The Confederate Flag is a banner that yet waves over the State Capitol grounds of Columbia, South Carolina.  It has been waving since 1962. It is time that the proud citizens of Columbia, South Carolina, take down the Confederate Flag.  Columbia’s city slogan is “Famously Hot”.  South Carolinians should be hot about this embarrassment hanging over our city.

Many people in favor of keeping this flag flying argue that it is a part of history, and as such, should not be forgotten, or removed.  This, however, is a part of history that is nothing to be proud of. Many of the Confederate Soldiers fought for the cause of…

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The ugliness of arrogance; bullets crack the facade of southern charm

April 9, 2015
No mother should have to experience the pain Judy Scott felt when she saw the video of her son slaughtered in the street. (Photo Credit:  dailymail.co.uk via ABC)

No mother should have to experience the pain Judy Scott felt when she saw the video of her son slaughtered in the street. (Photo Credit: dailymail.co.uk via ABC)

Arrogance is the next word, after cold-blooded murderer, which came to mind when I heard about the excessive parade of bullets that took the life of Walter Lamar Scott, 50, a North Charleston, SC resident. To learn that this was the handiwork of yet another officer of the law against an unarmed citizen was unbelievable, but even worse was the fact that this was done in the present climate of civil unrest and scrutiny of the ethics of some of the holders of the badge.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines arrogant as “showing an offensive attitude of superiority”. This officer, whom I hesitate to call an officer, not wanting to tarnish the other wonderful and dedicated law enforcement heroes, showed a remarkable unawareness of, or utter disdain for the current events commanding the news as of late. His disposition seems to be one of I’m going to do what I want regardless of the tension that is already in the air.

The judgment of this person, in retrospect, seems to have been incredibly flawed. His wife is reportedly eight months pregnant, so the last thing she needs is him getting fired right as they are about to bring a new life into the world. He may have momentarily snapped and fired twice out of fear, but eight times? In the back? He initially stated that he feared for his life due to the suspect struggling with him. Thanks to the due diligence of a passing citizen, a video has emerged showing that the only real struggle was the officer trying to catch up with Scott in a foot race, and failing that, dispatching his speedy bullets to do the job for him.

Knowing that interactions with officers and unarmed black men are already a hot topic of public conversation, this man was again arrogant enough not to give a flying pointed hood about how his actions would reflect on the national debate. More importantly he shot someone fleeing away from him down in the street, and showed a callous disregard of the taking of a human life unnecessarily. After the slaying of Mr. Scott has been thoroughly investigated, I hope that some of the previous encounters this officer has had will be re-visited to bring relief to families that may have been afraid to come forward because they had no video.

The Mayor, and the local authorizes must be commended for their swift actions in apprehending the culprit and launching a thorough investigation. Keep the standards high because the country, and even the world, are watching to see if our fine state is able to peek from beneath the Confederate flag flying on the grounds of its capitol and do the right thing. I thank you.

My prayers and condolences go out to the family of Mr. Walter Scott in their time of grief and loss. I pray that there will be safety without retaliation for his four sons in the event of future routine “traffic stops”.

SC winning battle to keep weapons out of the hands of mentally ill

August 5, 2014
New law ensures mentally ill will not have easy access to guns in SC.  (photo credit:  en.wikipedia.org)

New law ensures mentally ill will not have easy access to guns in SC. (photo credit: en.wikipedia.org)

Sometimes laws are passed and they seem to never be heard of again.  Well in South Carolina (SC) a law concerning guns has a reached a milestone that is cause for celebration.  The State newspaper reported Sunday that there has been a marked decrease in the number of weapons that are being sold to the mentally ill.

One of the problems with crimes committed by someone that is mentally ill is that because they are mentally incapacitated, the courts often have to refer them to treatment. This is beneficial for the person receiving rehab or clinical treatment, but it does nothing to lessen the anguish of the victims.  The perpetrator is taken care of and society’s desire for justice or accountability is left hanging.  (Continue reading full story here.)

Piggybacking on immigration, Ku Klux Klan sweetens the pot, delivers candy

July 17, 2014
The Ku Klux Klan in their Sunday Best.   (Photo credit:  ni.wikipedia.org)

The Ku Klux Klan in their Sunday Best. (Photo credit: ni.wikipedia.org)

With much of America being riveted by the scenes of abandoned children left, defenseless, on this side of the border, an old dragon has reared its head to take full advantage of the situation.  The Campus Lately is reporting today that the residents in one Seneca, SC, neighborhood awoke Sunday morning to find that the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) fairy had visited during the night and left bags of sweets in their driveways.

The small plastic bags contained peppermints and other candies, as well as a pamphlet bearing the title “Save Our Land Join The Klan”.  Robert Jones, the Imperial Klaliff of a local sect called the Loyal White Knights said that the event was part of a scheduled recruitment drop that many KKK chapters participate in three times a year.  He said all of the immigration hoopla underscores the need to protect our country and that all of the hype over illegal immigration is doing “all of our recruiting for us.”  He claims to have received over 20,000 interested calls as a result of this weekend’s drive-by goody bag drops.   (Continue reading full story here.)

Independence Day, July 4th: time for freedom from bad memories

July 4, 2014
Confederate flag in Columbia, SC   (photo credit:  commons.wikimedia.org

Confederate flag in Columbia, SC (photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

July 4th stands for freedom and independence.  Upon reflection, those who favor the Confederate flag flying on the State Capitol grounds of Columbia, South Carolina, do have this right.  But why in the name of compassion and empathy would they want to?

The Confederate Flag is a banner that yet waves over the State Capitol grounds of Columbia, South Carolina.  It has been waving since 1962. It is time that the proud citizens of Columbia, South Carolina, take down the Confederate Flag.  Columbia’s city slogan is “Famously Hot”.  South Carolinians should be hot about this embarrassment hanging over our city.

Many people in favor of keeping this flag flying argue that it is a part of history, and as such, should not be forgotten, or removed.  This, however, is a part of history that is nothing to be proud of. Many of the Confederate Soldiers fought for the cause of the Confederate states to have the right to continue owning their slaves.  No one living in 2011 was responsible for this. But to many minorities, this is a painful reminder of being thought of as property, rather than human beings with the same God-given right to freedom as any other citizen of this great country.  So painful in fact, that in a state that is trying desperately to boost its tourism income, this flag has actually become a burden.  Several religious, political, and even athletic groups, whose events could have brought hundreds of thousands of dollars into the state, have cancelled and moved their events and conventions to other states in a boycott of the Confederate flag.

In 2000, the Confederate Flag was moved from the state house to fly in front of a monument to fallen Confederate Soldiers on the State Capitol grounds.  This was a good first step, but clearly not enough.  The October 28, 1999 edition of The Economist stated that “So far, the NAACP estimates that South Carolina has lost at least $43m that would have come in from visitors: more than 40 organizations have cancelled events in the state, and at least 70 families have moved reunions to other places.”

An article by Sam Eaton published on July 31, 2009 on the news website WLTX.com stated that the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) “voted to move its 2010 convention from South Carolina after the NAACP reminded them of the organization’s tourism boycott of the state over the Confederate flag.”  According to this article, the Christian Church has about 700,000 members. This is a profound loss of tourism dollars to the local hotel and restaurant industry if even a quarter of the members had attended a convention held in South Carolina.

South Carolina also continues to lose out on much needed athletic tourism dollars.  A  July 9, 2009 article by Gene Wojciechowski on ESPN.com emphasized the long-term detrimental effect the Confederate flag is having on South Carolina’s economy.  He states “The Atlantic Coast Conference has had enough of that flag: Earlier this week it pulled the 2011, 2012 and 2013 ACC baseball tournaments out of Spurrier’s  (referring to University of South Carolina’s winning head football coach Steve Spurrier) state and relocated them to neighboring North Carolina. Myrtle Beach’s loss becomes Durham’s and Greensboro’s economic and tourism gain.  Meanwhile, the NCAA won’t touch the state of South Carolina with a vaulter’s pole. Same goes for Spurrier’s home conference, the SEC. And all because of a Confederate battle flag that first flew atop the state Capitol dome in 1962 and still flies prominently, defiantly and wrongly at a Confederate soldier’s monument on the Capitol grounds in Columbia.”

Where do things stand on the Confederate flag in 2011?  An Associated Press article by Seanna Adcox in the HeraldOnline on January 17, 2011, shows that the Confederate flag is still a hot issue.  This article highlighted the views and opinions of people who attended the January 17, 2011 rally in Columbia, South Carolina celebrating the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday.  According to the article, “Georgia’s NAACP president, Edward Dubose, said the NAACP is renewing its commitment to “not spend one dime in South Carolina until that Confederate flag comes down.” He said he and his wife led by example on the drive, by stopping in Augusta, Ga., to order food, then waiting until they arrived in Columbia to eat it.”

From another attendee, “This is more in-your-face. That’s just heartbreaking,” said Markita Primm, 37, who, along with her 14- and 11-year-old children, boarded one of two buses that traveled overnight from Detroit to attend.  Primm, who’s on dialysis and in a wheelchair because of a leg amputation, said she wanted to protest the flag in person. “This flag flying is not right,” she said.  Primm came with 120 people on a trip organized by Detroit talk radio personality Mildred Gaddis, who pledged to keep coming every year with more people until the flag is down.”

The Confederate flag should be completely removed from the grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol.  This building and its grounds and its employees represent all of the citizens of South Carolina.  To those who somehow have fond sentimental thoughts over what this flag represents, they can hang replicas of the flag in their own living rooms or front yards. This flag can also be hung in a South Carolina museum to preserve its historical value.  This is an example of a historical period that many South Carolinians are not proud of.  Events represented by the Confederate flag happened so long ago, that an apology, though necessary, cannot erase the tragedy.

The best solution is to remember history, so as not to repeat it.  Remember it yes, but not arrogantly wave around the symbol of that tragedy.  South Carolinians must now contact their local Representatives and Senators.   In the spirit of the rebels…..the Confederate Flag must come down.

*I will re-post this article every July 4th until progress is made.

Call 911 for Columbia PD: conspiracies, threats, coverups, now domestic violence

March 25, 2014
Tobin Barton, Officer of the Law, arrested for Criminal Domestic Violence   (photo credit:  thestate.com)

Tobin Barton, Officer of the Law, arrested for Criminal Domestic Violence (photo credit: thestate.com)

Once again the Columbia Police Department (CPD) made the news, in a not-so-desirable way, over the weekend.  Authorities responded to a possible assault call in the wee hours of Saturday morning.  Upon arriving at a residence in the northeast area at about 1 a.m., officers were surprised to find that it was one of their very own they would have to handcuff and haul off to the slammer.  CPD Officer Tobin Barton, 36, was charged with criminal domestic violence after an argument with his girlfriend allegedly turned physical.

Columbia residents have suffered more than their fair share of public humiliation regarding the CPD recently.  There have been allegations of secret recordings, police being ordered to plant drugs and a gun to get a city employee fired, threats and just last week a crime analyst slapped the City of Columbia with a lawsuit claiming her lover and former police chief Randy Scott wrongfully forced her to resign or be terminated on the spot.

Columbia has had six police chiefs in the last seven years.  After a long and controversial search process current Huntington, West Virginia Police Chief  William Holbrook has been selected to be the new CPD chief.  His resignation from the Huntington PD isn’t effective until April 7th.

Hopefully all the turmoil brewing in the CPD won’t cause Holbrook to change his mind about coming to our fair city.  CPD needs a leader, and fast, to whip things into shape.  Unfortunately it seems as if the agitation at the CPD is now spilling over into the community with officers taking their stress home.  Hurry Holbrook, hurry.  And it might not be a bad idea if you’d come riding in on a white horse with a long-handled broom to start sweeping things clean down at the CPD station.

Target of alleged police dept. frame-up now has mysterious home break-in

March 11, 2014
Allison Baker, alleged target of police frame.    (Photo credit:  Freetimes.com)

Allison Baker, alleged target of police frame.    (Photo credit:  Freetimes.com)

The players in the Columbia Police Department (CPD) just keep being thrust upon the public stage.  Senior Assistant City Manager Allison Baker’s home was broken into this past Sunday morning.  Baker wasn’t home at the time of the break-in, but found signs of forced entry when he returned home.  As far as he can tell the only thing taken was a jar of coins.

No one was harmed, but Baker was recently the target of an alleged “black-ops” scheme perpetrated by the CPD.  Former Police Captain Dave Navarro accused Acting Police Chief Ruben Santiago of ordering him to help Santiago plant a stolen gun and some cocaine into Baker’s car to get Baker terminated.  According to Navarro, Chief Santiago had someone else in mind that he wanted for the position of Assistant City Manager and needed to get Baker out of the way.  Navarro said he was terminated when he refused and Santiago then sued Navarro for slander.

Last week State Law Enforcement Agency (SLED) finalized an investigative report spanning some 405 pages.  The report shocked the city with allegations of illegally taped phone calls, threats, illicit affairs, and so-called “black ops” being carried on among the top-ranking elite of the CPD.  SLED concluded that something is going on, but there is just not enough evidence for prosecution at this time.  Santiago is still being investigated for obstruction of justice.  In the meantime CPD is expected to have a new police chief in place by mid-March.

Who’s minding the store? Cola. PD investigated for slander, “black ops” scheme

March 7, 2014

Just as Columbians are settling down from the news of serious problems (including unaccounted for absentee ballots during the presidential election) within the Richland County Elections board, a preliminary investigation has leveled bombshell accusations against the very organization designated to protect and to serve – the Columbia Police Department (CPD).

Former Police Chief Randy Scott resigned in tears.  (photo credit:  thestate.com)

Former Police Chief Randy Scott resigned in tears.
(photo credit: thestate.com)

The CPD has been making the headlines recently almost as much as the criminals they apprehend, and for all of the wrong reasons.  This latest spate of troubles started when then Police Chief Randy Scott abruptly resigned in 2013 citing battles with posttraumatic stress.

Acting Police Chief Ruben Santiago (photo credit:  thestate.com)

Acting Police Chief Ruben Santiago
(photo credit: thestate.com)

Former Deputy Chief of Operations Ruben Santiago took over as the interim police chief.  Before the dust could clear, CPD Captain Dave Navarro was fired for allegedly recording secret conversations between him and a high ranking member of the police department.  Navarro fired back with a stunning allegation that Acting Police Chief Santiago had tried to involve Navarro in a so-called “black-ops” scheme to plant a stolen weapon and cocaine in the car of a Columbia city manager so that person would get fired and they could move someone else into that position.  Santiago promptly turned around and sued Navarro for defamation.

Former Police Captain Dave Navarro with allegations of corruption (photo credit:  wltx.com)

Former Police Captain Dave Navarro with allegations of corruption
(photo credit: wltx.com)

Things turned so ugly so quickly that the matter was turned over for investigation to both the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).   Read the main findings of the 405-page investigative report in this article published yesterday by local newspaper The State.  In the face of all of the allegations, a special prosecutor for the matter was quoted as saying “no charges would be filed as a result of the investigation and that he considered the case closed.”  It is not known just yet why the investigation is being shut down and dismissed; but it is hoped that the corruption does not reach even higher than the CPD.

Columbia Police Chief Finalists (Photo credit:  thestate.com)

Columbia Police Chief Finalists
(Photo credit: thestate.com)

In the meantime, here are the finalists in Columbia’s search for a new police chief.  According to City Manager Teresa Wilson, they hope to have the new chief in place by mid-March.

Chaos, corruption, and miscounts; Richland County Elections Board fires director

February 27, 2014
Howard Jackson fires back at elections board after his termination.     (photo credit: wltx.com)

Howard Jackson fires back at elections board after his termination.
(photo credit: wltx.com)

 

Richland County Elections Board in Columbia, SC, is mired down in one of the biggest ethical fails since the hanging chad fiasco in Florida.  On Monday the board shocked the city when they suddenly announced that they were firing Richland County Elections Director Howard Jackson, effective this Friday, less than a year after they hired him.

Jackson did not go quietly.  He immediately announced that he had some startling revelations of his own and would hold a press conference the next day.  At Tuesday’s press conference Jackson came out swinging with fiery allegations of messy voting practices, missing absentee ballots, and racist hiring practices by the elections board.

Jackson inherited a sticky situation that he claims he was determined to clean up.  He was hired after a public outcry for the firing of then Elections Director Lillian McBride.  During the presidential election many of the local precincts were short of voting booths or had multiple voting booths that were malfunctioning, leading to some voters having to stand in line up to seven hours to vote.

 

 Former disgraced elections board Director Lillian McBride    (photo credit: watchdog.org)

Former disgraced elections board Director Lillian McBride (photo credit: watchdog.org)

 

Instead of firing McBride, the board allowed her to resign, and then hired her right back as the Deputy Elections Director.  This lack of accountability is symptomatic of many of the problems that Jackson claims the board covers up rather than corrects.

After Jackson’s candid press conference, the board held an emergency meeting and voted to move Jackson’s last day from Friday to effective immediately.  Not to be outdone, Jackson said that he had evidence of corruption in the elections board that he planned to turn over to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).  Thom Berry, SLED spokesperson, confirmed that Jackson turned in evidence to SLED on Wednesday, but declined to disclose the nature of the evidence pending investigation.

Restaurants or wild west saloons? SC passes concealed weapons bill

February 9, 2014

Why Not? What’s wrong with dinner and guns? photo: upi/Kevin Dietsch

This Tuesday, February 11, 2014, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley will sign into law the Concealed Carry Reform Bill.  This bill will allow people with a concealed firearms license to carry their weapons with them into bars and restaurants.  This despite the fact that officer-involved related shootings are on the increase in South Carolina.  There have already been seven officer-involved shootings in South Carolina in 2014 alone.  According to Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, “It’s a culture that’s been created where people use guns to solve a problem.”

There have been many concerns from various South Carolina legislators regarding this bill.  State representative Walt McLeod, D-Newberry said, “Booze, beer and wine is powerful stuff.  It causes people to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do.”  Proponents of the bill say the fear of fines and penalties will help prevent any problems.  Concealed weapons carriers must adhere to an honor system that precludes them from drinking any alcoholic beverages when they are armed in restaurants or bars.  Read more of the debates from both sides in this article from The State newspaper.

While bars are normally frequented by adults, many are concerned because the bill allows concealed weapons to be carried in bars and restaurants.  Families with children are frequently seen dining in restaurants like Ruby Tuesdays, Applebee’s, Fatz, Hooters, and other chains that have bars, where weapons would be allowed.  The bill does allow for owners of an establishment to post a sign banning weapons, but then again the restaurant staff will have to rely on the patrons to comply since customers will not be searched to see if they are carrying concealed weapons before ordering an alcoholic beverage.

My favorite Christmas present from "Santa".  photo:  Instagram/Nikki Haley

My favorite Christmas present from “Santa”. photo: Instagram/Nikki Haley

Gov. Nikki Haley pushed hard for the passage of the Concealed Carry Reform Bill.  This past Christmas she spread the news of her excitement that “Santa” had given her a Berretta PX4 Storm.  You can read more about what she called a “good time” at target practice in this ABC News article.  She posted an open invitation on her Facebook page for everyone to join her in the Statehouse lobby for the signing of the bill this Tuesday at 10:30am.

Gov. Haley knows her way around guns.  photo:  Facebook/Nikki Haley

Gov. Haley knows her way around guns. photo: Facebook/Nikki Haley