Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Shouting slogans such as “no justice, no peace,” “Remove Paul Gardner” and “Remove Lane Cribb,” about 30 people picketed from the Georgetown Police Department to City Hall on Saturday in what was called a “march against corruption.”
Organized by the Myers family, the event was held to bring light to what they said is unjust treatment, especially in the African-American community, by political leaders, law enforcement and the judicial system.
Organizer Loushonda Myers she decided the event was needed “due to the pattern of abuses that have been displayed throughout this county by the Police and Sheriff Departments, lawyers, judges, public officials and elected leaders.”
Myers said law enforcement “targets the black community and the judicial system is rigged so that these defendants will not obtain a fair opportunity at defending themselves in a court of law.”
After the march, a rally was held at the steps of City Hall.
The Rev. Debbie McNeil, a Georgetown native, spoke briefly saying Georgetown “is in a state of confusion.”
She expressed disappointment in the number of people who participated.
“We should have had the whole city come out. Black and white. This affects everyone,” she said. “If you are a minority and are caught with drugs or committing other crimes, you are given the longest possible sentence.”
She also spoke about the state’s public school system.
“South Carolina is at the bottom and we wonder why companies won’t come to Georgetown. The change starts with the school system,” McNeil said.
She also said the crosswalk signals that have been installed in the city are timed to keep minorities in their neighborhoods.
“They do not give us enough time to cross. It is a message to us to ‘don’t come this way.’ They think everything downtown is for everyone else,” she said.
Eric McNeil also spoke, saying he “toned down” the remarks he had written.
He began by referring to Mayor Jack Scoville as “a coward” for not showing up at the event.
Scoville said he had “no comment.”
Mr. McNeil said he sees all the construction going on around the Historic District but sees very few things being done to improve his neighborhood.
“We need a playground, sidewalks, the roads need fixing,” he said. “And City Council got iPads.”
He also said he sees men in his community “being harassed” by police on a daily basis.
“I ask (Police Chief) Paul Gardner, who do you serve?” he asked.
After the rally, Gardner was contacted to see if he had any comments about what was said.
“This day was organized by them. We were there to protect their rights to have their say,” Gardner said Saturday morning. He declined to comment on the specific allegations made.
Georgetown resident Marty Tennant also spoke, saying he knows of “lies during official meetings of the city” and he has “seen deep corruption in the city and judicial areas.”
He warned those in attendance “they will come after you” for speaking out, adding some in leadership are “stuck in a plantation mentality.”
The website created for the event — www.gtricogang.com — contains photos of 25 individuals described as “public officials that need to be held accountable.” They include judges, law enforcement officials, and every member of Georgetown City Council.
Long history with the law
The family that organized the march has a long history with the law which was detailed in an article in The Georgetown Times in January.
One family member, Dameon Myers, was hit with various charges in 2002, including failure to stop for a blue light, possession with the intent to distribute crack cocaine and possession of marijuana.
He did not show up for his trial in 2003 and was found guilty in his absence. Myers was arrested in 2011 in Myrtle Beach and his sentence was unsealed. He is now serving a 20 years.
In a petition filed this year, Loushonda Myers says the bad blood between law enforcement and her family began in 1995 when police responded to a call of a dog fight on Merriman Road.
Two of Dameon’s bothers — Tyre and Jamol — as well as numerous other people, were standing on the corner.
Jamol had their dog on a leash right beside him.
“Without asking for permission, an officer approached the dog and attempted to inspect it. Consequently, the dog bit the officer in the leg. The officer sustained a large wound to the leg,” Loushonda Myers states in the petition. “Right afterwards, an officer approached and punched Tyre. Tyre began fighting with the officer. Then several of the officer’s comrades pounced on Tyre and started beating him. So, his brother, Jamol, ran to his aid and began fighting the officers that were attacking his brother.”
Both of the Myers brothers were arrested and were charged with several offenses which included assaulting an officer, resisting arrest, breach of peach, inciting a riot, and possession of a dangerous animal.
“Due to the advice of their attorney, Russell Long, and the lack of knowledge in regards to the law, they decided to take a plea. Subsequently, they were sentenced under the youthful offender act,” the petition states. “This one incident manifested years of hate and malice towards the Myers Family. And, these despicable feelings are transferred to other members of law enforcement and judicial bodies that are subsequently hired.”
By Scott Harper