CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The City of Charleston’s Commission on Equity, Inclusion and Racial Conciliation has only been around for 6 months, and on Friday, it lost a member.
City Councilman Harry Griffin will no longer serve on that board. The co-chairs of the commission put out a statement, saying in order to complete their work without further distraction, they made the decision to remove Griffin.
This comes after a controversial rally this past weekend in downtown Charleston. Griffin was featured on a flyer for it.
As part of the event, a list of grievances was tacked up on City Hall, one of them, called the city’s Commission on Equity, Inclusion and Racial Conciliation a “thinly-veiled government sanctioned platform for radical, leftist, anti-american racial bigotry and propaganda.”
Earlier this week, Griffin released a statement saying he was originally told the event would be about tax increases, but when the theme started changing, he declined the invitation.
He also said he made attempts to get his picture removed from the flyer.
Within the past 40 minutes, we heard from the Social Justice Racial Equity Collaboration. They say while they are pleased to hear about Griffin’s removal, they would like all members of the commission to complete the “Racial Equity Institute” offered by the YWCA of Charleston.
We reached out to Griffin for comment and have not heard back from him yet.
Charleston Councilman Jason Sakran released a statement Friday night saying that Griffin had “exercised poor judgement” and said some “hurtful things” but said Griffin was not a racist or a white supremacist.
“He apologized and clearly stated he has no formal association with any of these groups,” Sakran said. “I am disappointed and saddened he allowed himself to be co-opted and it’s unfortunate he interpreted some of their policy priorities and ideas as innocent and benign. "
Sakran’s statement can be read below.
I cannot in good conscience end this week without formally commenting on this past Saturday’s protest and the troubling developments that followed. I strongly condemn the messages and themes of the Proud Boys as well as any group that uses racially charged language, intimidation, or calls for violence. Several of the groups who were present this past weekend lack a real political or policy agenda and have demonstrated little effort to actually want to solve problems, engage in real conversations and help build a more unified Charleston. These fringe groups do not represent the overwhelming majority of Charlestonians and we should denounce them and their divisive tactics. I would encourage my fellow Councilmembers to reaffirm our commitment to racial justice, respectful disagreement, and inclusion.
As far as my fellow Councilmember Mr. Griffin is concerned, he exercised poor judgement, and even said some hurtful things but in my opinion -- he is not a racist nor a white supremecist. He apologized and clearly stated he has no formal association with any of these groups. I am disappointed and saddened he allowed himself to be co-opted and it’s unfortunate he interpreted some of their policy priorities and ideas as innocent and benign.
We have significant challenges ahead of us as a City. In order to succeed we must spend more time listening to each other, showing empathy, focusing on the things that unite us, and acknowledging that opportunity and access have not been universal truths for all in the Charleston community. I will never fully understand what it means to be a Black American and have to sit down with my young son or daughter and explain why hatred and bigotry will be directed towards them just because of their skin color. As a White man in a leadership position, I have a moral responsibility to act and I will not remain silent.