Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:
The Post and Courier of Charleston on fundraising for an African-American museum:
When state lawmakers balked at finishing the job, the Charleston Naval Complex Redevelopment Authority stepped in. Authority board members voted … to contribute $11 million to the International African American Museum, effectively completing the state’s funding commitment.
After 18 years in the works, the museum can finally break ground. Construction should start early next year, according to former Mayor Joe Riley, one of the projects biggest and longest-term backers.
Museum officials say they still have less than $1 million in private funding to secure - the $75 million fundraising effort was split evenly between private, state and local money - but donations have been pouring in over the past few months from generous donors. The remaining dollars will undoubtedly be forthcoming.
“The IAAM will tell an important part of our nation’s history,” said retired Navy Rear Adm. William Schachte, chairman of the RDA, in an interview with The Post and Courier. “The IAAM will certainly impact our region and communities well beyond South Carolina, in a positive way.”
The IAAM is more than just any old museum.
For one thing, it will stand on the site of Gadsden’s Wharf, where thousands upon thousands of slaves first set foot in Charleston. It was one of the largest entry points for slaves in the country, and the last major entry point when international trade ended.
Today, it is a quiet field with a beautiful view. But for decades, it was a place of human suffering. It is difficult to think of a more fitting way to remember and memorialize that painful past than with a museum.
But the IAAM is not just about tragedy. It is about perseverance, survival, invention, innovation, art, achievement and celebration.
It will tell the stories of the millions of black men and women who helped shape our country into what it is today: their struggles and their triumphs. Those stories are the stories of America. They are the stories of Charleston.
They are stories that can mean the world to young black kids who will have the chance to explore an entire museum filled with people who look like them, people who did amazing things, often in the face of tremendous obstacles.
All of us stand to learn and grow from those experiences.
With the RDA donation, the IAAM is finally well within reach of finishing its mission to raise a very large amount of money to build a very important building filled with very meaningful history. It has not been an easy effort.
But the impact this museum will have on Charleston, its residents and the millions of people who visit this city cannot be truly counted in dollars. It’s priceless.
Myrtle Beach Sun News on human trafficking:
Human trafficking, an international, multi-billion-dollar criminal enterprise, is the 21st century version of slavery and it has victims on the Grand Strand as surely as enslaved Africans worked Georgetown County rice plantations 200 years ago.
Recently, the Myrtle Beach Police Department, in a collaborative effort with three offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, concluded a human trafficking investigation in which a victim was forced to be a prostitute in multiple cities including Myrtle Beach. A North Carolina man was identified and arrested on charges of human trafficking, kidnapping and assault. Dequan Jonquil Blakeney was extradited and is currently incarcerated at J. Reuben Long Detention Center.
Eighteenth century slavery was much more obvious as they were brought to ports such as Charleston and sold as property in open markets. Today, the evil of human trafficking is an underground crime. Victims are men, women, boys and girls. Area cases of human trafficking typically involve sexual exploitation (prostitution) but some U.S. victims are domestic servants. In other places globally, men and boys are forced to work without compensation.
Human trafficking is difficult to understand, “hard to get your head around,” said Patty Jackson of Georgetown. She is a volunteer and chairwoman of the reorganized Coastal Region Human Trafficking Task Force, part of the state effort directed by Kathryn A. Moorehead of the Office of the Attorney General.
Jackson is the retired director of the Waccamaw Regional Education Center, a business-education effort. The regional task force was relaunched July 26. A dozen subcommittees are working and a strategic plan developed. “There has been such an outpouring of energy,” Jackson said. More than 50 people, including working and retired professionals from law enforcement, law and health services attended the meeting.
A follow-up will be held Sept. 13 from 10 a.m. to noon in the main courtroom at the Ted. C. Collins Law Enforcement Center, 1101 Oak St., Myrtle Beach. “People who want to be involved” are invited to participate.
The S.C. Human Trafficking Task Force was set up in 2012 to establish a multi-disciplinary regional coalition and increase public awareness to prevent and expose human trafficking. “Not yet is everyone trained” in identifying potential human trafficking situations, Jackson said, speaking of professionals, including health care providers and law enforcement officers. General public awareness also is needed. This includes recognizing signs and signals, such as someone being controlled or manipulated by another person. Anyone seeing such a situation, if able to speak with the victim, might ask “Are you in trouble?” or “Do you need help?”
Reporting to law enforcement possible human trafficking situations are similar to letting someone in authority know about strange or unusual behavior in your neighborhood: It’s best to report it and let the authorities check it out.
The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg on littering laws:
South Carolina’s laws against littering should become more effective and enforceable with approval of amendments in 2018.
Revising the laws was needed to give officers and the courts greater flexibility in the prosecution of litter cases.
A key component of Act 214 makes it easier to achieve court-ordered community service/litter pickup by removing the requirement for supervision. The litter-gathering community service portion of the penalty may not be suspended, except the court may, upon request, accept an additional monetary penalty equal to $15 per hour in lieu of the community service. Probation may be granted only due to physical or other incapacities.
Act 214 also defines litter and illegal dumping as separate offenses, ending confusion that has resulted when enforcing violations on both public and privately owned properties.
It allows greater discretion for fines to “fit the crime” and will allow for more officer participation in enforcing litter laws.
The changes to the law “opened our law enforcement tool box a little wider for those of us who tirelessly work to protect our state’s beauty and cleanliness,” said Jamie Nelson, director of Environmental Enforcement for Spartanburg County, via a press release.
Nelson represented the South Carolina Litter Control Association during the legislative process seeking to strengthen laws against littering. SCLCA is comprised of litter and code-enforcement officers specifically assigned to handle litter concerns.
“We have heard the concerns of law enforcement entities about the fines and from judges in upholding the fines or assigning community service,” Nelson said. “Act 214 takes away those barriers. There are no excuses anymore for not writing the tickets.”
Changes in the law are a positive step, but they alone will not result in an end to the litter problem. While those deserving punishment should receive it in sufficient doses to make people aware the litter laws are real, putting a halt to littering is about pride.
For the majority of people not littering, those who do are mysteries. The questions remain: “Where have they been? Do they not know any better? Do they really care so little about their surroundings? Do they care about anything?”
Perhaps tougher enforcement of litter laws and stiffer penalties for violating them will get their attention and produce a change in behavior.
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