Aiken, SC (WJBF)- Senator Linsdey Graham met with community leaders in Aiken County Monday morning to talk about police reform. He said it’s important to support both the police and the African American community.
“It’s not a binary choice here for the nation. Support the cops or support communities of color. Let’s do both,” said Senator Graham in a press conference.
Local law enforcement shared some of their concerns with the Senator.
“All the police officers were worried about what’s going on today driving people out of the profession. They’re worried that cops are feeling like they’re not respected and they’re not valued,” said Senator Graham.
The Senator said that reform is necessary going forward.
State leaders want to focus on de-escalation tactics by banning chokeholds which can pose a life threatening danger to a suspect.
“The George Floyd situation, enough is enough. There’s almost unanimity in the country that what happened to Mr. Floyd is not good policing. It’s abusive policing. It’s a stain on us as a nation. It needs to change,” said Senator Graham.
Pastor Paul Bush is with the Concerned Ministers Fellowship in Aiken.
He said that it’s time for the government to come together to make a change.
“We asked the question that is there anything in Washington greater than politics. Is there anything that we can deal with when dealing with issues that don’t refer back to Republican or Democrat, but is ready to deal with the issue itself?” asked Pastor Paul Bush.
The group issued Senator Graham a challenge.
“What we challenged him with, Senator Graham, is to go back and to represent all of South Carolina. And we need him to be more of a public voice against racism, against discrimination and to speak these things not only in the White House, not only behind closed doors in small groups, but we as South Carolinians need to here him make a statement from the White House and represent us all as a people there,” said Pastor Bush.
He also said that it was a start when Senator Graham said these words on camera.
“Black Lives Matter.”
The pastor said the Senator knows that he has a lot to learn about when it comes to the fears of African Americans and that he is trying to understand.
“To help him to understand the statement he made about Black Lives Matter. It’s not just a statement to be made. But the point that we made is that Black Lives Matter is the same thing as Save The Whales. When we say Save the Whales it don’t mean Kill The Dolphins,” said Pastor Bush.
The Senator made a brief comment about the Meriwether monument in North Augusta. He said he agrees that something needs to be done whether it means taking it down or replacing the inscription. However, he says that it needs to be done legally.
Senator Graham is meeting in Columbia on Monday night with state leaders and he says he hopes they will be able to reach an agreement soon.