Muhiyidin d’Baha, an organizer with Black Lives Matter, was one of the activists speaking out against the release of Michael Slager
Identifying herself only as the spirit of Harriet Tubman and the youth that are ready to rise up, one speaker at today’s press conference regarding the release of Michael Slager was unafraid to make a strong declaration about the court’s decision.
“Until there is justice, there will be no peace in Charleston. There will be no peace in North Charleston. There will be no peace in South Carolina,” she said. “We have hundreds and thousands of people all over this state, all over this country, that are waiting to galvanize and stand in solidarity if justice is not served. ... Please don’t take these as idle threats.”
Led by a coalition of activist groups, including the Charleston chapter of the NAACP, Black Lives Matter Charleston, the National Action Network, and Lowcountry Peace, representatives called for Slager to be returned to jail following his release on a $500,000 surety bond Monday. The former North Charleston police officer is currently awaiting trial, scheduled to begin Oct. 31, for the shooting of Walter Scott.
According to Elder James Johnson of the National Action Network, the solicitor has 48 hours remaining to appeal the court’s decision. Johnson also called for the resignation of North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers and requested that a gag order be placed on all North Charleston officers regarding Slager’s case.
“You have police officers from North Charleston supporting Mr. Slager,” Johnson said. “They are the same people who patrol our community and we are afraid of them. This police chief allowed this to happen.”
Tuesday’s press conference at the Al Cannon Detention Center in North Charleston set an odd tone, drawing a lone counterprotester, who continuously blared his car alarm and waved a handwritten sign, reading “Blue Lives Matter.” Those in attendance to speak out against Slager’s release played drums, called for a protest of the evening’s swearing-in ceremony for North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, and at various points chanted, “No justice. No peace. No racist police,” while others addressed members of the press.
Elder James Johnson of the National Action Network is calling for the resignation of Police Chief Eddie Driggers a gag order to be placed on all North Charleston officers regarding Slager’s case
According to statements made by representatives from the National Action Network and Black Lives Matter Charleston, the organizations feel that the decision to release Slager and schedule his trial for late October is politically motivated.
“As we walk into this next 72 hours when there is midnight madness, when there is no peace, ask yourselves why. It’s because there is no justice,” said Muhiyidin d’Baha, an organizer with Black Lives Matter. “We would like for a federal prosecutor to be assigned to this case. This case is beyond any kind of political moves that Scarlet Wilson should be making in order to be re-elected, or maybe she’s overburdened with her caseload. In any case, a federal prosecutor needs to handle these kinds of crimes. This is an epidemic across the country. We’re not getting the kinds of indictments and we’re not getting the kinds of convictions that we need.”
As for what the rest of the week will hold for the city and the case of Michael Slager, nothing is certain. When asked what to expect if the two-day deadline to appeal the former officer’s release isn’t met, the impassioned speaker who invoked the spirit of Harriet Tubman said only, “Wait and see.”