COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A handful of people arrested and charged with looting during Saturday’s protest in downtown Columbia adamantly deny committing the criminal offense.
In an exclusive interview with WIS, Tyler Wilson and Shakia Hurlock share their account of what happened before their arrest.
Hurlock and Wilson were among seven people that linked arms in the middle of Lady Street Saturday night in Columbia. A group that came together to assemble peacefully to support the “I Can’t Breathe” protest, they stated.
"We were standing in unity and solidarity," added Wilson.
Directly opposing this assembly was a group of law enforcement holding protective shields. They were in place to enforce an emergency curfew enacted by local city officials.
Members of the group stated they were unaware of an emergency curfew that was already in effect when they gathered together.
“Never explained to us they had a curfew,” said Jennifer Doyle, one of the seven arrested. “We had no idea.”
Any people remaining in downtown Columbia Saturday were subject to being arrested after 6 p.m. for violation of curfew ordinance in place.
In the moments to follow in the Vista, officers moved toward the line of protesters and arrested them.
“A sentiment of heartbreak,” shared 27-year-old Hurlock. “Heartbreak for those that have also gone through this. Heartbreak for my family.”
Hurlock and Wilson protested for 20 minutes they said before being arrested and then transported to Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. The experience lasted more than 12 hours once placed in handcuffs and resulted in a looting charge they refute.
“Booked on false charges,” stressed Wilson. “On our paperwork, it states that we were looting, trespassing, and damaging property.”
Others among the group of seven arrested and charged with looting, including Nadia Richardson and Monica Faye Gaudet. Like the others, frustration mounts over that charge currently listed on the online court records.
All five women WIS spoke with hope the looting charge will be dismissed.
“I am going to making my voice heard on these false charges,” said Hurlock. "I am also going to continue to try to make this a better place for our community.
"To have that information on footage and to still have conflicting information in terms of how they portrayed us is extremely disheartening," added Wilson.
When we first learned of a possible mistake with the list police released of arrested protesters and their charges, a spokeswoman confirmed one of the protesters, Doyle, was arrested for a curfew violation instead of looting.
When we asked for further clarification about the group of people with similar looting charges Columbia Police Department said they are looking into it and will update when they can verify the information.
Addendum: In our original reporting we mentioned Sophia Capers as being in the original seven arrested on Lady Street. We have since learned that Capers was not among the seven, and she independently reached out to WIS to express her innocence and denies the looting charge.