SC Legislative Black Caucus calls for criminal justice reform

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) – The South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus is calling for criminal justice reform they say “must be implemented at the state level” in response to George Floyd’s killing.

Chairman of the caucus, Rep. Jerry Govan, pointed to instances in South Carolina where lawmakers made prominent changes at the state level following racial injustice.

After the shooting death of Walter Scott in 2015 by former North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager, a bill to equip more police officers with body cameras passed and renamed in Scott’s honor. 

Following the 2015 mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, when nine African Americans were killed by white supremacist Dylan Roof, the Confederate flag was removed from the Statehouse grounds.

“Instead of rioting, we came together, people of goodwill, black, white, rich, poor, working together, and did something unprecedented that took some years to get accomplished,” Govan said.

The caucus is calling for immediate action by Gov. Henry McMaster to establish, by executive order, a task force for reforming police and law enforcement practices. Govan said this could be modeled after the state’s COVID-19 response team, AccelerateSC, to make for a diverse group from every region.

“It must include a fair representation of our youth today that carry the promise of our tomorrow,” the chairman said.

The caucus also believes action must be taken to ensure the body camera mandate is fully funded and followed by all law enforcement agencies in South Carolina.

In addition, the lawmakers are pushing for a hate crime law, as South Carolina is one of four states in the country without legislation in that area.

“Violent bigots must be punished and it must be a priority of the law to do so,” said Govan.

Finally, the caucus says a bill should be filed regarding police practices, requiring psychological testing on officers and ensuring that a cop fired for racial profiling in one department “can’t become one down the road.”

“The time is now to lead without question, as the call for action is overwhelming,” the chairman said.

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