CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Civil rights groups stated their support of a Charleston County School Board member and criticized Live 5 WCSC for an editorial calling for the board member's resignation.
The National Action Network and other groups held a news conference Thursday in which they targeted an editorial presented by Live 5 WCSC General Manager Dan Cates about the arrest of CCSD Board member Kevin Hollinshead relating to bad checks.
Hollinshead said he turned himself in on July 27 after finding out about the active warrants.
National Action Network State President Elder James Johnson says Cates "assassinated" Hollinshead's character in the Aug. 1 editorial.
"We will not stand back and allow anybody to assassinate his character," Johnson said. "People make mistakes. I have made mistakes in my days in writing a check that I could not -- insufficient funds -- but I took care of that. We know Mr. Hollinshead is on the school board and the limelight is on him, but still, he's not a Donald Trump, he's not a senator, he's an ordinary citizen who takes his time to try to make wrong right and to help the least of them, and we're not going to sit back and allow that to happen."
In the editorial, Cates said the arrest raised serious questions about his standing as a board member.
"When a person runs for public office and becomes an elected official, they should be held to a much higher standard and accountability," Cates said. "And if you are elected to help manage and oversee a half billion-dollar budget funded by taxpayer dollars, as well as being entrusted to make decisions about the education of 50,000 of our school children and more than 6,000 employees, well, the level of accountability is even higher."
Johnson said state law handles things like bad checks and called for people to let the law handle it.
Johnson also turned his attention to President Trump.
"We see Donald Trump talks about women real bad, talks about blacks, African-Americans, Latinos, that's not the headlines we see today. Things are more important that Channel 5 or anybody could talk about on TV every single day."
Johnson was joined by Hollinshead, fellow school board member the Rev. Chris Collins; North Charleston NAACP President Ed Bryant, Pastor Thomas Dixon of The Coalition, and others.
"If you go and check the records for Charleston County and you find out how many bad checks have been written in the past year, or in the past two years, you'll find a significant number," Bryant said.
He said the check had "no significant value except for the fact that it's an instrument of financial responsibility."
"I think Mr. Hollinshead was singled out and targeted basically because of the fact that he introduced a measure on the school board to raise the salaries," Bryant said. "What we want to reiterate is that under no circumstances are we going to support or endorse any TV station, radio station, or anybody else, that comes out and singles out any elected official who subsequently has the authority to make decisions based upon the whole of Charleston County, including our state, our kids, the school board and members of this general community."
Bryant asked why the editorial singled out Hollinshead when there are many others who write bad checks.
Collins stood alongside his fellow board member and called the criticism disgraceful.
"He didn't rob a bank, he didn't burglarize someone's home, it was simply insufficient funds that people do every day in Charleston County," Collins said. "And being the responsible man that he is, he's paid his debt."
Hollinshead said he paid the fees associated with the checks on Tuesday.
The East Cooper Magistrate's Court confirmed the charges were dismissed on Wednesday after Hollinshead paid the fees.
Johnson echoed Bryant's accusation that Hollinshead was targeted because of the salary proposal Hollinshead spearheaded, claiming that it was after news of the bad checks became public that questions began to surface about the raise issue.
"It's also ironic that Channel 5's general manager came out on last night and asked for Mr. Hollinshead to resign," Johnson said. "Maybe he should resign."