Two top municipal law enforcement leaders in the South Carolina Lowcountry will participate in an online discussion later this month focused on the issue of “race in the community.” The event – sponsored by The Charleston Forum – will also feature results taken from the nonprofit organization’s “community survey.”
Embattled Charleston, S.C. police chief Luther Reynolds will join North Charleston police chief Reggie Burgess for a conversation “about racial relations and criminal justice in the Lowcountry and across the state,” according to a media advisory for the event.
According to Reynolds, “it is imperative that we work together to discuss these issues and find solutions that will create real change for South Carolinians.”
“Along with The Charleston Forum, we hope that South Carolina will be a leader at the forefront of these issues, and it takes leaders to step up and make that change happen,” Reynolds added.
Wait … step up?
That is curious language, indeed, considering Charleston police effectively stood down during the violent rioting that rocked the Holy City following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Memorial Day.
The rioting included widespread looting, property destruction and physical assaults against the citizenry. Even worse, the ongoing law enforcement accommodation has (surprise) enabled additional violence.
Along with the ongoing purge of Charleston’s history, a pervasive instability is emerging which is threatening to destroy the regional tourism economy – which was already reeling.
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Anyway, as far as we are concerned Reynolds knows absolutely nothing about “stepping up.” In fact it was Burgess’ agency which took the lead in ensuring public safety in the aftermath of the riots. And then again in the aftermath of the shocking downtown murder of 63-year-old Tom DiLorenzo, husband of the new provost at the College of Charleston.
Assets of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and other state agencies – and the S.C. National Guard – were also indispensable in restoring public order.
Curiously, though, Burgess was not given a quote in the media advisory touting this event – which is scheduled for Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. EDT (details here).
Seriously? Are we really kicking off a conversation about racial equality in the Lowcountry by not quoting a black police chief who has done his job? But quoting the white police chief who has failed miserably in doing his job?
According to its website, The Charleston Forum was founded in 2016 “to allow a deeper understanding of Charleston’s racially tangled history and provide solution-based ideas.”
“We recognize that we will not overcome racial barriers without open discussion to share what behaviors and institutions are perceived as problems by some, why they are, and how we might respond so that those social issues can be deprived of their divisiveness,” the group’s online description noted.
Obviously, we welcome this discussion. In fact our news outlet has been helping host it (here and here) for several weeks.
But that discussion must focus on public safety … particularly in these turbulent times.
“Cops and courts are core functions of government – indispensable to the preservation of our society,” we noted in a recent column. “They must be fully funded.”
And yes, they must also be held accountable when it comes to the provision of “equal justice under the law” – a principle ensconced in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
But there is no justice to be found in setting dangerous criminals free … nor clearly is there justice to be found in law enforcement sitting back and allowing criminals to take life, liberty and property without consequence.
There is simply no excuse for such lawlessness … just as there is no excuse when sworn law enforcement leaders abdicate their obligation to those they have vowed to protect.
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