Activists speak in support of North Charleston Joint Operations Center

Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 2:30 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 8, 2022 at 5:34 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A group of activists held a news conference Wednesday to send a message to those in opposition of the North Charleston Joint Operations Center.

The group, led by Pastor Thomas Dixon, said that the groups who spoke publicly against the plan, including the Charleston Democratic Socialists of America, should have first asked the community most affected by gun violence what they thought about it.

“We want to make it perfectly clear that the community, those who actually live in the most violent, gang-ridden, drug-saturated areas of North Charleston, we want to make it clear that we want these cameras and anything else that’s gonna make our neighborhoods safer,” Dixon said.

Activist Justin Hunt said we are at a “by any means necessary” moment.

“We have to do what we feel can help now, because we’re gonna get another crying mother,” Hunt said.

Deputy Chief Hagge with the North Charleston Police Department told Live 5 News in April that they were working to create a real-time 24/7 monitoring center with a dedicated staff to monitor 865 cameras located in every main corridor of the city. Hagge said the goal was to reduce and solve crime, and keep residents, visitors, and officers safe and informed.

The news conference comes after a petition was created by members of the Charleston Democratic Socialists of America to stop the city from following through with the Joint Operations Center. Members of the group argued that the plan would lead to over policing, an invasion of privacy, and the targeting of minorities.

Dixon said most of the people opposed to the surveillance system don’t live in the “warzones” that are most impacted.

“Many of these people who are speaking out against the cameras have never even stood up when Black people have been dying in the streets,” Dixon said.

Despite being in favor of the cameras, Dixon said they are prepared to ensure that no mismanagement or injustice happens without the police department getting a “serious response” from the community.

“We are not stupid or naïve to the potential problems that could be created,” Dixon said. “I don’t know why these groups thought that they could be our voice. I don’t get that. Do they really think that we’re too stupid to speak up for ourselves? I don’t really get that, and I don’t appreciate it.”

Dixon said he hopes those who spoke against the plan will stand down, but he invites them to stand with them and work with them to support the cameras and combat gun violence in the community.

“We really hope that one day, that people who don’t live in the hood will ask us first what we think about what goes on and what’s going on in the hood before acting and reacting as if they know what’s best for the hood,” Dixon said.

Dixon said they will be at Thursday’s city council meeting to spread their message of support for the cameras and the Joint Operations Center.

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