National Action Network commends S.C. Supreme Court’s temporary ban of ‘no-knock warrants’

RAW VIDEO: Group commends state Supreme Court temporary ban on 'no-knock warrants'

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The National Action Network commended the South Carolina Supreme Court Tuesday after the court issued a temporary hold on "no-knock warrants."

The National Action Network's Rev. Nelson B. Rivers III said the issue is near and dear to the heart of the group, which has gone on the record publicly against the warrants in the past.

“We’re glad that our Supreme Court in South Carolina took a leadership role and issuing a temporary restraining order, saying that they cannot be used,” Rivers said at a news conference at Charity Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston. “And we think, though, this should become permanent that they should be forever banned for being used in South Carolina.”

The announcement, signed by Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty on Friday, said circuit and summary judges cannot sign off on the warrants until they receive further instruction from the state’s judicial branch on how to issue the warrants.

The court acknowledged the dangers that executing such warrants can pose to both members of the public and to law enforcement. Law enforcement officers seek “no-knock” warrants from judges that allow them to enter homes and other buildings without announcing their presence prior to entry. Many police departments across the country have used them to serve people accused of drug crimes.

“No-knock” warrants have come under scrutiny nationwide following the death in March of Breonna Taylor, a woman fatally shot in her home by Louisville, Kentucky, police officers who had secured such a warrant.

Protesters against police brutality and racial injustice in South Carolina have called for ending the practice, one of a set of demands presented to lawmakers in June.

Rivers said the group also wanted to go on record saying they oppose chokeholds, referring to the May death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, who died as a Minneapolis Police officer held Floyd down with a knee to Floyd’s neck.

“We stand firmly against the use of the knee on the neck, as well as the chokehold,” Rivers said.

March on Washington planned for August on anniversary of 1963 march

Rivers also announced a new March on Washington, called “The Commitment,” scheduled for Aug. 28 in the nation’s capital. National Action Network President and Founder the Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III will lead the march.

“We’re having a march of commitment that will commit us to changing policy to making sure the census is completed and used, and most importantly, turning out a tremendous vote in November,” Rivers said.

The Commitment March will take place on the 57th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington during which the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous speech that has come to be known as the “I Have a Dream” speech. Rivers said the five years after that speech saw “the most substantial and transformative change happen for black people in America than any other five-year period of time.”

“We march because we want to have an intergenerational movement that will transform policing in the United States of America,” he said. “By that, I mean policing that’s accountable policing that is transparent policing that is just policing that will no longer take the life of an innocent person, especially an innocent person who is unarmed.”

He said the march will maintain social distancing.

“We will have our masks on as we march,” he said. “We’re going to make sure that everyone is safe when they come. We’re even going to have buses leaving here that maintain social distancing even on the buses. But we plan to march with going to the Lincoln Memorial, and at the Lincoln Memorial we will declare and call on the United States of America to join us in making police accountable over the land to save lives and not have so many memorial services; have celebration of birthdays father’s days mother’s days, those events are important, and not celebrating lives at a loss at the hands of police.”

All of the National Action Network chapters will meet in Washington for the march. Rivers said there are already 40,000 people registered to take part in the march.

Copyright 2020 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.