COLUMBIA, S.C. (The T&D) - City of Orangeburg officials say they welcome peaceful protests, but they’re preparing for the possibility of violence.
Their statements followed a weekend of protests throughout the country in response to the death of George Floyd.
“Let the citizens know that we do understand their frustration, we understand their anger and we understand them wanting to see a change of this kind of activity and this kind of planning. We empathize with them and we will do our best to make sure that the city will stay peaceful,” Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler said Monday.
Floyd was an African-American man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pinned a knee to his neck.
Two protests were held in Orangeburg on Sunday. There were also rumors of other protests on Monday.
“We keep hearing about protests on social media. A lot of the protests seem to be somewhat spontaneous, so it’s pretty fluid,” Orangeburg Department of Public Safety Chief Mike Adams said.
Many protests nationwide turned violent. Adams said ODPS is prepared for the possibility of violence during protests and demonstrations.
“We’re prepared for any eventuality. We support peaceful protests and will do everything we can to facilitate that,” Adams said.
“But if we have individuals who are intent on tearing stuff up, looting, that’s not something we’re going to tolerate. I’m not going to go into operational details. I will tell you that we have partnered with the State Law Enforcement Division and other agencies for every contingency, and we hope that all protests will be peaceful, but certainly, we are prepared for anything that transpires,” Adams said.
Butler said violence or crimes committed during protests will be not be permitted, and any violators will be prosecuted.
Cities such as Columbia and Charleston re-instated curfews in response to violence, vandalism and looting stemming from local protests.
Butler said he is exploring the option of reinstating the citywide curfew.
“That is a strong possibility,” he said.
“We are watching to see how today goes, and possibly tomorrow and that is one of the possibilities that the city may enforce,” Butler said.
Butler originally announced a citywide curfew in March in response to the coronavirus. The curfew has since been lifted.