Organizers for Black Lives Matter Charleston have extended an invitation to Gov. Nikki Haley to have an open discussion on the group's methods and goals for reform. The request comes after the governor's recent address on race, during which she spoke out against the national Black Lives Matter movement, while also opening the door for a possible vice presidential run in 2016.
In a speech to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, Haley focused on racial progress and the importance of open communication in South Carolina following the death of Walter Scott and the Mother Emanuel Church shooting.
“Long before the racially charged events of this summer, I would not have been elected governor of South Carolina if our state was a racially intolerant place. And I would have not won the Republican primary if we were a racially intolerant party,” Haley said. “With the grace of the aftermath of the Mother Emanuel Church massacre, the world saw South Carolina as we are.”
After an account of her personal experiences with discrimination as the child of Indian immigrants, Haley gave a clear indictment of the Black Lives Matter movement which she holds responsible for adding to the civil unrest in Ferguson and Baltimore following the officer-involved deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray.
“Black lives do matter and they have been disgracefully jeopardized by the movement that has laid waste to Ferguson and Baltimore,” Haley said before praising the North Charleston Police Department's response to the shooting of Walter Scott by a white officer and the South Carolina General Assembly's passing of body camera legislation. “Some people think you have to yell and scream in order to make a difference. Well that's just not true. Often the best thing we can do is turn down the volume and listen.”
Reached for comment regarding the governor's criticism, Black Lives Matter Charleston organizer Muhiyidin d'Baha says the activist group played a vital role in the events following Scott's death and questions whether Haley is really listening at all.
"We demonstrated not only out of anger and disgust, but strategically with solutions and recommendations,” d'Baha says. The activist claims that the time between the murder of Walter Scott and the arrest of officer Michael Slager was made short by Black Lives Matter activists who facilitated the meeting of the Scott family and Feidin Santana, the young man who captured Scott's shooting on video, leading to Slager's arrest. “We led with utmost civility and trust in our political process. Yet the trust has been unrequited.”
In his statement, d'Baha agreed with Haley's call for an open dialogue, extending an offer to the governor on behalf of Black Lives Matter Charleston to discuss the group's reform goals and the framework necessary to institute citizen review boards in South Carolina.
The governor's office has yet to issue a response.