Mark Your Calendar for the Network’s Spring Strategy Conference May 14
This year marks the SC Progressive Network’s 20th year of educating, agitating. We invite you to join us for our annual Spring conference on Saturday, May 14, at the American Postal Workers’ Union Hall in Columbia. The conference will run from 10am through 5pm, with socializing and dinner to follow. Stay tuned for details.
Modjeska School spring classes are in session, and YOU can take advantage of online study guide
The Spring Session of the Modjeska School started March 21, with 31 students enrolled in the 8-week session. While we are working towards having organized, online classes in the coming year, everyone is welcome to the study guides for the eight classes that are being posted HERE. We invite you to take advantage of the readings and videos compiled by the school faculty.
Sunday Social Justice School is a chance for the public to share a deep dive into SC history with the Modjeska School. On April 24, Vernon Burton, the authority on Ben Tillman, leads our discussion about Tillman’s Jim Crow legacy. On May 1, a screening of “Shattered Justice,” a recent film about the 1968 Orangeburg massacre, will be followed by a discussion about racist violence led by Jack Bass, author of The Orangeburg Massacre. The free gatherings are 4-6pm at the Robert Mills Carriage House, across Henderson street from the Township Auditorium in Columbia. Stay after class for a reception. Questions? Call 803-808-3384.
Photo ID Arms Race
Network Director Brett Bursey testified at an Election Laws Subcommittee in March on a bill to allow concealed weapons permits to serve as voter photo ID. The Network has long argued against the requirement for photo IDs, seeing it as a tool to suppress the vote, especially of elderly black voters.
Bursey pointed out to the committee that 90% of the civilians packing concealed guns in South Carolina are white males over 21. You don’t even have to live in SC to get a CWP, just own property here.
After debate, subcommittee chair Rep. Rick Quinn (R-Lexington) agreed to add, along with CWP permits, government-issued IDs to the list of approved voter IDs. Should the bill make it through the legislature, it will add CWP permits and public school IDs and local government IDs, as acceptable IDs. We’ll consider this a victory.
Racial Profiling Project Update
The Network’s Racial Profiling Project teams have been meeting with sheriffs and chiefs of police across the state to solicit their support for strengthening racial profiling monitoring in SC. A bill written in 2001 by the Network’s director and sponsored by Network Co-chair Rep. Joe Neal to require all cops to report all stops was finally passed in a watered-down version in 2005. The current “Public Contact” law only requires all cops to report warning tickets. Go HERE to see the lists of stops by your local cops on the Dept. of Public Safety web site.
Rep. Neal’s new bill (H-3993) requires all stops be reported, and requires SLED to analyze the data annually and report to the legislature. The new legislation fixes the problem that no agency monitors compliance with the law, and will require the legislature to suspend funding to any police agency not in compliance.
While we need more information about each stop than the race, gender and age than is currently reported, we’ve decided to focus on getting “all stops” legislation passed this session. We have learned that all the police agencies in the state are moving toward an electronic ticketing system that will automatically gather the data we want shared. Nearly 80 of the nearly 300 police agencies that stop citizens already have the laptop, scanner and GPS equipment in their cars that can plug into the “E-Citation”system. A bill has passed the Senate and is in the House to fund the outfitting of the all police cars by 2019.
Our strategy to get the bill passed has been to get the cops’ support first, pointing out that it helps build community trust, lower racial tension and make their jobs safer. The president of the Police Chiefs Association, Lancaster Chief Harlene Carter, and the incoming president of the SC Sheriffs Association, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, have agreed to testify in favor of the bill. The Head of the Dept. of Public Safety and the Highway Patrol has also agreed to support the bill.
Kudos to everyone who has been working on this project. We’re making sound headway.