The Daily Gamecock

Activists march on Main Street for police accountability

<p>Children lead the Black Lives Matter march starting at the Statehouse. The march was primarily led by children to represent those lost to police brutality. One sign reads: "Imagine your child killed by police."</p>

Children lead the Black Lives Matter march starting at the Statehouse. The march was primarily led by children to represent those lost to police brutality. One sign reads: "Imagine your child killed by police."

The Racial Justice Network, along with other community and activist groups, hosted a march down Main Street on Saturday to call for police accountability. 

“I’m just tired of the bulls— man. A lot of us are dying for no reason, and I’m tired of it. That’s why I’m out here,” Benjamin Adams, a first-year student at Benedict College, said.

The group marched from the Statehouse to the Richland County judicial center, where the families of Ariane McCree and Joshua Ruffin, two Black men shot and killed by police, spoke.

Elder James Johnson speaks to a crowd outside the judicial center. The protesters started at the Statehouse and marched through the streets of downtown Columbia.

McCree was a 28-year-old who was shot by Chester police in a Walmart parking lot in November 2019, according to a Post and Courier article.

McCree had been detained and handcuffed at the Walmart for shoplifting, when he ran out of the store. Officers Nicholas Harris and Justin Baker, who shot and killed McCree, said he was wielding a weapon.

Vickie McCree, Ariane’s mother, spoke in front of the judicial center following the march.

“Now, his four-year-old son has to go on with life never being able to experience it with his dad, while the officers who killed his dad are just free,” McCree said.

Ruffin was a 17-year-old who was shot by Columbia police officer Kevin Davis. Davis was responding to a call about kids on bikes breaking into cars, according to Abdullah Mustafa, present at the march. Mustafa said he questioned the officer’s suspicion of Ruffin.

“When the officer pulled up, Joshua was never on a bike. Joshua was walking. So, right there, the questions that the family is asking is, Joshua was walking; this is not a kid on a bike. So, why did the officer even stop him or question him or anything?” Mustafa said.

Fifth Circuit solicitor Byron Gipson did not press charges against Davis for the shooting, according to another Post and Courier article.

“We need an independent investigation, federal, and I need — we simply need Byron Gipson to simply step down 'cause we don’t trust you anymore. You don’t have our best interest at heart in our community,” Timothy Timmons, Ruffin’s uncle, said.

John Singletary with the Racial Justice Network said the organization wants “justice for each and every citizen.”

A child leading the march holds a sign reading "Imagine your child killed by police." Children led the march from the Statehouse to the judicial center on Aug. 29.

“We will be back out here again until we get justice,” Singletary said. “We will be back out here because we will hold accountable not only the police department, but also the election commission for making sure that once we do vote, that our votes are registered and counted properly.”

Another group at the march was One Common Cause. According to organization officials, they focus on housing, police reform and community education.

“They think, ‘You’re nothing,’ and we want our people to know that we are so much more powerful than that,” Ashley Sims, One Common Cause's program director, said. "We do a lot of advocating for people because a lot of people don’t know what they need. A lot of people don’t know, you know, what they can do."

Benedict College first-year student Xavier Marseille, who attended the march, expressed frustration with policing in America.

“I can say one thing, I can say that I’ve known police officers. I’ve known great police officers, I’ve known terrible police officers. I've been harassed by police multiple times myself,” Marsellie said. “There’s always going to be crooked cops, and I feel like, in our community right now, we are not happy with the police. We're not happy with everything that’s going on, and I believe that not all police is the problem, but something has to change.”


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