'Black Lives Matter' hold rallies in N. Charleston for Walter Scott

Published: Apr. 8, 2015 at 10:30 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 9, 2015 at 10:42 AM EDT
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Walter Scott. (Source: Facebook)
Walter Scott. (Source: Facebook)

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Supporters gathered twice at North Charleston City Hall on Wednesday to demand justice and equality in the wake of the fatal shooting of 50-year-old Walter Scott at the hands of a cop.

On Wednesday night, many people gathered, carrying signs that read "Black Lives Matter," and chanting"Hands up. Don't shoot."

Rep. Wendell Gilliard, who attended the rally, said Scott's death is not just a problem in Charleston, but a problem in America.

Members of Black Lives Matter, who hosted the rally, said they were also praying for the family.

Earlier on Wednesday, dozens also chanted "No justice, no peace" between personal stories of perceived racial injustice by law enforcement during a 9:30 a.m. rally.

Each speaker at the rally said the shooting death of Scott by a North Charleston police officer should be the catalyst for change.

Police say Scott, an unarmed black man, was shot and killed by North Charleston Patrolman First Class Michael Slager, a 33-year-old white man, following a traffic stop Saturday morning. Slager was charged with murder Tuesday afternoon after video of the altercation provided by a witness showed Slager fire eight shots at Scott, who was running from the officer.

The South Carolina NAACP released a statement late Tuesday night commending the U.S. Attorney's office, the FBI, SLED, and other law enforcement personnel for bringing charges against Slager.

"The rapid response by law enforcement in this matter does bring some level of comfort to the community in the hopes that the judicial process will render an adequate measure of justice for the victim," Dr. Lonnie Randolph Jr., President of the SC State Conference of the NAACP said in a statement.

They also pledged to "remain engaged locally as members of the community attempt to process the details of this incident."

The Charleston Branch of the NAACP will hold a press conference Thursday at 11 a.m. at the Branch Office, located at 81 Columbus Street. According to a release, the presser will include a statement on the fatal shooting and the charges brought against Slager, and a call for "further vigilance and accountability with regard to racial profiling by law enforcement agencies in the Greater Charleston area."

Reverend Jesse Jackson released the following statement Tuesday night echoing the possible underlying racial ties in the fatal shooting:

We extend deepest heartfelt sympathy to Walter Scott's family and stand in solidarity with them as they seek justice for his murder. It is long past time to end the wave of terror against men of color in the US. The punishment for traffic violation is not death. Police officers are sworn to serve and protect...not to act as judge and jury in the street. We can start with S.C Rep. Gilliard's body camera legislation. We should also release internal affairs records of proven police misconduct and reform tort laws to make it easier to obtain civil judgments against cities that retain officers known to violate citizens' right to due process and equal protection under the law. 

During the darkest days of this nation's history thousands of blacks were lynched by angry mobs emboldened by federal complacency. We commend the US Dept. of Justice for its investigation into the patterns and practices of discrimination in Ferguson and issue an urgent call for a similar probe of the courts and police of North Charleston.

Local activist Elder James Johnson, president of the Charleston Chapter of the National Action Network, spoke Tuesday night during a press conference for Scott's family. He said it is his hope that the witness' video of the shooting will spark change throughout law enforcement.

"Hopefully from this tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina, police departments will come together and say enough is enough," Johnson said.

Slager was denied bond Tuesday evening, and is being held at the Charleston County Detention Center.

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