[image-1] Black leaders and activists from the Charleston area gathered outside The Post and Courier office Friday afternoon to announce they will sit down with the paper's editorial and opinion staff to discuss how it writes about topics that face the local black community.
"The Post and Courier has a history of attacking black leadership that speaks out on issues concerning economic justice, criminal justice reform, education justice reform and we want to address that in a meaningful way," said Kwadjo Campbell of the Lowcountry Black Leadership Coalition.
The meeting will occur July 16. The announcement comes a week after the publication printed a column focusing on North Charleston City Councilman Jerome Heyward, and a few days after a police report was filed related to perceived threats against the paper.
The column by freelance columnist Steve Bailey appeared in the P&C July 4, commenting on the controversial hiring of Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey as the chief executive of the Charleston County Aviation Authority. Heyward also sits on the authority's board. Critics have questioned Summey's credentials for the job and the manner by which the hiring took place.
[content-1]Heyward told The Post and Courier that he felt the opinion piece unfairly targeted him as a black elected official and one of six votes that ultimately voted to hire Summey. "Just be fair," Heyward said.
The staff of the P&C's editorial and opinion section, where Bailey's column was published, operates independently from the paper's dedicated news-reporting staff.
The situation escalated when Heyward made references to an "AR" and hunting on a Facebook livestream Sunday night, discussing Heyward's critics. The newspaper filed a police report Monday, and the State Law Enforcement Division is now investigating.
Shakem Amen Akhet, the community activist who hosted Sunday's livestream, said, "There was no threat at all."
North Charleston Democratic state Rep. Marvin Pendarvis said he also stands with Heyward. "I have seen the pattern where we seem to unfairly and unjustly target black elected officials from things that aren't covered nearly to the level and to the degree of their white counterparts," Pendarvis said. "It's important that we get fair and accurate representation."
"This is something that was retaliatory, and is drummed up and is trumped up and is false," Akhet said at Friday's press conference. "What he said was totally in defense of himself. He never made an outward threat of violence against anybody."
"I was not referring to a threat on anyone's life," Heyward told The Post and Courier after the interview.