A group of pastors upset about Charleston police officers’ use of force during an arrest last month said Monday they’ll respond by the end of the week to the city’s proposed response to the arrest of a woman.
The Rev. Michael Jones didn’t indicate how the Concerned Clergy Coalition would respond to the letter from Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin.
Jones spoke during Monday’s City Council meeting, when a relative of one of the officers who arrested Freda Gilmore said she was disappointed in city officials and the media regarding the Oct. 14 incident.
On Thursday, in a letter to the coalition, Goodwin outlined what the city would do in response to the arrest of Gilmore by two officers, Carlie McCoy and John Mena.
A video of McCoy and Mena taking Gilmore into custody was posted to Facebook, with community members calling on city officials, police, and community leaders alike to respond and take action in the weeks since. The officers were cleared by Charleston Police after an internal investigation.
Police Chief Opie Smith II has referred the matter to the FBI for further review, Goodwin said in last week’s letter.
Gilmore’s parents have said she has special needs, and they intend to sue the city.
During the public comment portion of Monday’s meeting, Nikki Boggs, who said she was Mena’s mother-in-law, said the video that caused the “sideshow” didn’t show the whole incident, which she said included Gilmore fighting with McCoy prior to Mena’s arrival.
“I strongly back and support the Charleston Police Department and all the officers,” Boggs said after the meeting. “Until somebody walks in their shoes and does their job, they don’t have any right to judge and criticize because they haven’t ever done that and faced the danger the officers do.”
Boggs read from a prepared statement during the meeting, but her comments exceeded the allotted three minutes. Goodwin asked her to submit her written statement to the city clerk after the meeting to put them on record.
City Council President Becky Ceperley said there needs to be a mutual respect between community members and City Council members.
“The recent divisive behavior that has taken place lately only breaks the trust among us and the community,” Ceperley said. “The residents of the City of Charleston need to have trust in us and that we were elected to serve them, and we all need to work together in that regard. In fact, they deserve us to have more respect for one another and to work with trust and respect for them and each other.”
In other news from Monday’s meeting, the city has launched a nationwide search for a new general manager for the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.
Council approved a $37,500 contract with SearchWide Global, a Minnesota-based firm, to conduct the search for a new manager. The search is expected to take 10 to 12 weeks. The firm will gather a group of candidates based on the preferences of the arena’s Board of Directors, employees and city officials, and help with interviews and a contract with the preferred candidate.
John Robertson retired as the arena’s general manager last month, after more than 40 years there.
Also Monday, council members agreed to make metered parking in the city free on Saturdays throughout the holiday season, starting Nov. 30 and running through Jan. 4.
The city has offered free holiday parking for at least 10 years, but this year expanded the policy from four weeks to six.
“We want to incentivize folks to shop local this holiday season,” Goodwin said in a news release after the meeting.
“By providing free Saturday parking at our meters city-wide, we hope to help drive traffic to our local retailers and restaurants.”