Sam Spence

A crowd of close to 100 marched through Park Circle on Thursday, one of a handful of different protests organized across the Charleston area during the afternoon.

Walking around the inside sidewalk of the traffic circle hub of the North Charleston neighborhood, protesters marched to the end of East Montague Avenue and back before gathering for a photo and a few speeches.
[content-2] Katie Rivera of Hanahan carried a sign bearing the names of people killed in altercations with police. “All of these people were killed by police, and I’m here to get justice for them and do it peacefully,” she said. “How many more?”

Marches were touched off nationwide to raise questions about police violence after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 while in police custody. In Charleston, local social justice protests have occurred every day since May 30. Esante-Joy McIntyre of North Charleston, was at the rally with Rivera, and both were surprised at the diversity of people in attendance. “People from different communities — gay people, Hispanic people — were out here marching peacefully,” she said. “And the amount of people that were supporting us as we were walking, that was surprising.”

It was both 18-year-olds’ first protest event since groups began organizing rallies across the area beginning Saturday.

North Charleston Assistant Chief Greg Gomes addressed the crowd briefly at the end of the event, thanking them for marching peacefully. Maya Green, a graduating senior from Charleston County School of the Arts, had parting words for the department before the crowd dispersed around 3 p.m.

“Something that’s concrete that police in North Charleston can do is encourage the department to conduct an audit for racial bias,” Green said.

North Charleston leaders have been resistant to activists’ requests to conduct an assessment of the department since the calls began after the shooting of Walter Scott by a city officer in 2015. The federal Department of Justice never released its investigation into the incident. The city has assembled a citizen input panel, but groups such as Charleston Area Justice Ministry continue urging the department to do an independent audit.

“If there’s no problems, then they won’t find any problems,” Green said. [content-1] A march outside North Charleston City Hall on Monday that moved out along Montague Avenue saw protesters briefly block the road as a countywide curfew approached. Drawing a police response that included armored vehicles, officers in riot gear and the S.C. National Guard, seven people were ultimately arrested, including one juvenile.

Other marches were also held in North Charleston and downtown on Thursday.

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