Following is a statement from Richland County Council Chairman Paul Livingston in reference to local protests in wake of the death of George Floyd:
“Richland County, like many communities across the nation, is facing an unprecedented time with the dual challenges of COVID-19 and protests in wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The response to Mr. Floyd’s death while in police custody has sent ripple effects throughout the country and – as with the coronavirus pandemic – we, too, are affected.
Over the past few days, people of all ages have taken to the streets to raise their voices in protest – and leaders are listening, for the issues raised can lead to the betterment of our entire community.
Just as first responders and other public safety workers have been at forefront of the COVID-19 response, they have been there for our community during the protests we are experiencing in Richland County, from downtown Columbia to the County’s detention center. Richland County Council supports the efforts of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, the Columbia-Richland Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services employees and Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center correctional officers, as well as the Columbia Police Department and other first responders. They have worked to maintain public safety and allow peaceful protesters to raise their concerns and frustrations, while exercising their First Amendment rights.
In Richland County we are fortunate that though the efforts of hardworking men and women in public safety and the thoughtfulness of many peaceful protesters, we have not experienced a multitude of injuries to people nor widespread destruction of property and businesses.
Together, we can and will work through these challenges we are facing. The Richland County community is strong and resilient – and the bravery and commitment of our public safety personnel is a testament of our strength and unity.”