Officials, Community Leaders Address Racism and Protests

Councilmen Lynn Ballard (Left) and Ennis Fant (Right) - Emily Gill
By 106.3 WORD

Two press conferences were held today in Greenville to address the murder of George Floyd and the results of this weekend's protests.

At County Square, Greenville County Councilmen Ennis Fant and Lynn Ballard presented a statement put together by themselves and two other council members: Xanthene Norris and Liz Seman.  

Fant (Left) and Ballard (Right) - Emily Gill

Councilman Fant said inequalities in the criminal justice system and in the financial system. 

Their prepared statement is as follows:

The horrific incident that occurred in Minneapolis a few days ago has been university condemned by everyone.  There is neither excuse nor explanation for such a callous act.  It has sparked an outrage across the United States and many protests have resulted.  Peace protests and demonstrations are good; the allow people from all walks of life to come together and let their collective opposition to those actions be herd.  Unfortunately, some of those demonstrations which began as peaceful, turned unnecessarily violent.  The violence escalated in rioting and looting.  Businesses in many parts of the country were vandalized and some even destroyed by fire.  Reaction to the wrongful death of one man resulted in many innocent people being harmed and parts of several cities being severely damaged or destroyed.  These destructive actions should also be universally condemned.  
As elected leaders of Greenville County, we have observed all the events of the past week.  Our hearts are heavy, and our spirits are saddened.  We hurt for George Floyd and for all the members of the Floyd family.  We hurt for all the innocent people whose lives and livelihoods have been disrupted.  Most of all we hurt for our country.  The anger and outrage that we have seen is not just about the death of one man, but decades of building frustration inflicted on a people who voices are still not heard or respected even in the post-modern era.  The majority of people in our community have never had to look over their shoulder or be concerned if they took a wrong turn.  They have never worried that if they drove through an unfamiliar neighborhood or were just spending time with some friends in a public place after dark, what the consequences would be.  Others however, live with this constant fear every day.
The Bible teaches us as followers of Christ, that we must share in the suffering of our brothers and sisters.  We want all of the citizens of Greenville County to know that at least four members of Greenville County Council are not sitting on the sidelines being idle spectators, but are committed to being involved participants; helping Greenville County and the rest of the nation find its better self.  Real dialogue must start, and REAL conversations must be had if we are series about addressing the systemic inequities and injustices that still plague our minority communities across America.  Generations of children, of all races, yet unborn are crying out for genuine leadership that possess a moral conscious.  They are begging us to give them a better America and a brighter future.  This process will not be quick.  It will not be easy or enjoyable.  But in the end, it will be rewarding for us all and God will be pleased.
Photos at County Square of County Council Members - Emily Gill

Additionally, Councilman Fant said there cannot be change until those in leadership positions work with the community.

"You got to have genuine leadership that can actually run government to make things happen.  It has to be activists and governmental leadership working together," Fant said.

Later in the afternoon, the City of Greenville held a press conference with the Urban League of the Upstate, and the Greenville Branch of the NAACP, Greenville Police Department, and the Greenville County Sheriff's Office.

Mayor Knox White began by thanking the protesters for spreading their message peaceably.

JH Thompson - Interim Greenville Police Chief

J.H. Thompson, Interim Greenville Police Chief, expressed the importance of protesting and the exercise of the peoples' first amendment rights.  

JM Flemming - President of Greenville NAACP

J.M. Flemming, President of the Greenville Branch of the NAACP, pointed out that while many of the speakers at the press conference were complimentary of the protests, they did not mention the reason for the protests: institutional racism.  

Flemming, like many community leaders, believes open conversations are the only way forward.




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