Megan Conley, Staff Writer
On April 4, the city of North Charleston shook with the reverberations of a gunshot that ended the life of 50-year-old African American Walter Scott. At approximately 9:30 that morning, Scott was pulled over by former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager for a traffic stop, and tensions escalated, ultimately resulting in the shooting of Scott by Slager.
Police say the two men fought over the officer’s taser, which brought about the deadly force used by Caucasian officer Slager. The officer has since resigned and charged with murder, and civil rights leaders are asking for the U.S. Department of Justice to launch an investigation of Charleston’s police tactics.
A video, recorded by a bystander, was released that shows the events, and viewers can see Scott turning his back and running away from Slager, who then pulls out his weapon and shoots Scott in the back.
As tensions have been rising in recent months surrounding other officer related shootings, protesters have been gathering in the North Charleston area to raise awareness of the growing problem in the area.
Sarah Jalbert, a North Greenville University sophomore from Summerville, S.C., describes how the protests are affecting the area she calls home.
“There has been a little bit more dissension and there’s some protests. There’s signs along the road with anti-police statements and strong messages with strong language. Compared to how things normally are, things are stirred up a bit more and there are some strong messages that are out there but not extremely violent. Just a lot of discontentment,” said Jalbert.
While protests in other parts of the U.S. resulted in mass chaos, such as in Ferguson, protesters in Charleston are keeping their actions simple and violence-free.
“Businesses haven’t been affected by it. It’s mostly been protests and nothing as violent as Missouri. There’s been more talk thank violence. Thankfully it hasn’t gotten hectic and crazy. A lot of older people have gone directly to town hall and to authorities in more of a peaceful manner. It’s been mostly protests and nothing really out of hand,” said Jalbert.
Jalbert sheds some light onto the causes for the growing protests in her hometown.
“Some of the ways that the media has portrayed things have made it worse. Things like this have happened before, and normally there wouldn’t be that much attention. The fact that there is video evidence and that the officer wasn’t portraying a good representation of the police from the Charleston area doesn't help,” said Jalbert.
In the midst of this tragedy, Jalbert shares words of wisdom to live by during this time.
“It’s the 21st century. We really shouldn't judge people based on the color of their hair, skin or eyes. God made us all special and we shouldn't look down on people because of that,” said Jalbert.