SC leaders react to George Floyd’s death, protests

State - Regional

Protestors demonstrate on University Avenue while holding a “WE CAN’T BREATHE” sign and wearing protective masks, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – On Friday, many South Carolina officials took to social media to comment on the killing of George Floyd by a former Minnesota law enforcement officer.

Floyd died after an encounter with a former Minneapolis Police Officer, Derek Chauvin, during which Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for around nine minutes while Floyd pleaded for his life. On Friday, Chauvin was taken into custody and charged with third degree murder.

Protests have taken place nationwide, with many devolving into riots. The violence wreaked particular havoc on Minneapolis, where the former officer’s precinct, the Third Precinct, was set ablaze on Thursday night. The National Guard was called in overnight to maintain control. A March on Washington led protesters to the White House on Friday evening, prompting Secret Service to completely lock down the property; staff and press were not allowed to enter or exit the premises. On Friday night, protests turned violent in Atlanta, which led to rioters overtaking the CNN center and fires raging in Centennial Olympic Park. Similar such situations are transpiring all over the country. Nothing of the sort has happened thus far in South Carolina.

Governor Henry McMaster expressed outrage at the incident, Tweeting in part “we should all be angry. There is no excuse for this.” He also said said that “South Carolinians are well within their rights to publicly and peacefully express anger over the inexcusable take of George Floyd’s life.”

Representative Joe Cunningham posted a lengthy video, saying that it is important to have difficult conversations and confront biases. He acknowledged his privilege, and said that as a white lawmaker, the best thing he can do is listen to those whose voices need to be heard. While he denounced the violence, he emphasized the need to pay attention to the problem, even after the initial outrage dissipates:

“Right now, we should be mad as hell about these senseless killings. But we need to make sure that our outrage lasts longer than the last newscycle, and that we keep having these conversations in our everyday lives.”

On Friday morning, Senator Lindsey Graham said that the death of Minnesota man George Floyd was a stain on the law enforcement community and deserved justice. He elaborated, saying “the best thing you could do for the good cops, which are overwhelming in number, is to deal with the bad cops forcefully.” He also said that justice “will be achieved in a court of law…[and] with social change.”

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