Following are statements from Richland County Council Chair Paul Livingston and County Administrator Leonardo Brown in response to concerns about potential protests in states’ capitals leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. Livingston and Brown participated in a news conference today at Columbia City Hall.
Council Chair Livingston:
Last year our community experienced protests born out of anger and concern. Over the next few days, we may again face protests born out of anger. Capital communities across the nation remain on alert for potential backlash aimed at government following the certification of Joe Biden as the next president of the United States.
While there are people in our community with diverging opinions about the presidential election, we should all agree that everyone has a right to raise their concerns and exercise their First Amendment rights about any issue – but through peaceful protests. Our local law enforcement organizations will be on hand to ensure that peace and order rule the day. And we support them in their efforts.
I am confident in the preparation of our law enforcement partners and the steps they are taking to ensure safety and security in our community. I urge residents to help by making plans to stay away from the city core over the weekend and through inauguration day.
In the aftermath of the next few days, it is my hope that meaningful dialogue will arise. For through that, we often find we have more in common than we realize.
County Administrator Brown:
We continually work with our law enforcement partners in preparation for events such as rallies, protests and demonstrations. We stay committed to our mission of maintaining and enhancing the quality of life for Richland County residents and visitors – and it is a commitment and a responsibility we take seriously. And we know that part of our efforts includes ensuring the safety of employees, who throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have continued to report to work – whether remotely or at government facilities – to serve the public. To that end, we are taking extra precautions to safeguard County personnel and facilities during this time.