The Daily Gamecock

In Our Opinion: Lott's accusations warrant more information

In a rather bizarre news conference held yesterday, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott accused one particular club — The Library — of being the epicenter of Five Points’ gang problems.
Suggesting that a single establishment propagates the entirety of Five Points’ gang activity seems outlandish to us.

For starters, The Library is owned by a family more ordinary than you might expect. Of course, there may be something Sheriff Lott and his team knows that we don’t, perhaps a gang connection in the management below the owners, but even that seems like a stretch. The Library, like most every other bar, enforces a dress code — a practice suggested by shooting victim Martha Childress’ family themselves. One can assume that the dress code weeds out gang members, but what do gang members even look like anyway? The Library’s management doesn’t seem to know either, despite inquiring with the police multiple times for help in suppressing any suspicious activity. By the sounds of that, we want more transparency regarding Lott’s information before a family’s livelihood is compromised by an erroneous witch-hunt ignited by Lott’s response when asked what needs to be done about the situation: that The Library needs to close.

Pathos aside, how do we know Sheriff Lott and his team aren’t mixing up correlation and causation, a mistake that can be all too easy to make when dissecting the Five Points nightlife. Sure, The Library may let in people of suspicious character, but what bar doesn’t? It’s no secret that Five Points is surrounded by some dangerous neighborhoods, so traffic from them is practically inevitable, at least for now. Furthermore, since The Library is located in the middle of Five Points, the bar may just be a victim of poor circumstances.

It’s also worth pondering whether The Library’s closure would ultimately hinder gang activity much. Who is to say the gangs won’t find another establishment to frequent? To reiterate, the extremity of Lott’s words suggest that there may be a link we’re unaware of, but until then, we don’t want the Five Points community damaged even more, especially by the police of all people. We aren’t the professional crime fighters here, and we know that. Five Points has presented a Gordian knot that will take time to resolve, that much is clear, but we can’t let the police’s handling of the conflict create more victims than there already are. While there may be more layers to this recent revelation than meet the eye, until the police level with us regarding their knowledge, we’re not sure we can take their findings in good faith when a family’s livelihood is at stake.