UPDATE: Four organizers were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct. Read original statement from organizers
Charleston, South Carolina–May 6, 2015
BREAKING: LGBTQ Community in South Carolina Blocks Bridge Calling For Accountability From North Charleston Police & Creation of Citizen Review Board
Today, Wednesday May 6, 2015, members of Southerners On New Ground (SONG) and #BlackBrunchCharleston activists are blocking the Cooper River Bridge in a protest against police brutality. We are a multiracial group of queer, transgender and allied peoples using our bodies and collective voice to demand an end to the violence against Black people by police, the murder of Black people by police, and the constant surveillance, economic deprivation, and fear put upon Black people who live in Charleston by police and by the city of Charleston and many power holders who live here. Action participant Pope says, “I’m tired of navigating through life in fear. Why does my blackness put me at higher risk of criminalization, violence, policing, and terror?”
In the month since Walter Scott’s murder, the City of North Charleston has refused to work with the community to ensure accountability. This is not just a case of one “bad apple” cop. The racial profiling and harassment of Black people in the Charleston area has continued unfazed since Officer Slager’s arrest and firing. This is a deeply rooted systemic issue. We unite with the North Charleston community’s demand for a civilian review board, which urgently needs action and delivery.
We also unite in solidarity with the Baltimore Uprising. We know that centuries of violence and white supremacy have created the situation we are currently faced with, where blackness is under constant attack from Charleston to Baltimore to Ferguson. In this action, we honor the lost lives of black women and LGBTQ+ people at the hands of law enforcement and vigilante violence.
Since the beginning of this year alone, a black person has been killed by police at the rate of one every 8 hours. It is with this urgency in mind that we have shut down the bridge today. Action participant J.W. says, “This is about the lives that are demonized and systematically slaughtered to preserve white supremacy. This is to get the attention of those who ignore what is happening every 8 hours and inform them about what they can do in the movement. I will not be complicit.”
In this Southern city, the fact is that slavery, racial injustice, and brutality are in the fabric of our streets, our economy, our history, and our interactions. We call on white people of conscience and integrity to not be neutral or silent about the devastating impacts of centuries of violence and exploitation of the Black community. We call on all white people to take bold risks in fighting back along Black people for Black lives in Charleston and everywhere, now. We know that LGBTQ people and people of color are forced into the margins in Charleston. That is why we know it makes sense for us to demand accountability together. Action participant, Jillian says: “We call on white LGBTQ people to acknowledge that Black Lives Matter is an LGBTQ issue, and that it is time for us as white folks to be quiet, listen, learn, and find our place in the movement.”