Columbia, SC - The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled Wednesday a program created by Gov. Henry McMaster to allocate $32 million in federal pandemic aid to private and religious schools is unconstitutional because the public money would directly benefit the schools. In the court’s opinion, Chief Justice Don Beatty acknowledged the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the lives of South Carolinians and the state’s education system, and the “unprecedented challenges” faced by state leaders including McMaster.
Can you imagine living without sunlight? Many of us experience seasonal affective (SAD) disorder in the winter months, causing symptoms ranging from depression and lethargy to thoughts of suicide. SAD can also exacerbate the symptoms of some mental illnesses, like bipolar disorder. But while grey skies may be depressing, or even hazardous to our health, most of us can’t fathom what it would be like to go over a year without sunlight. For prisoners in South Carolina’s Level 3 prisons, this scenario is all too real.
I purposely chose the word facetious, because South Carolina’s Dept. of Correction’s Director Bryan Stirling has absurdly decided to address serious issued in South Carolin’a prisons with impotent legislation. The problem in South Carolina’s prisons is NOT the fact that a few prisoners have obtained access to cell phones. The problem is that South Carolina’s prisons, some of the most dangerous and deadly in country, are in devastatingly horrific conditions and prisoners have been using cell phones to expose the issues that they are forcibly confined to.
When a man barged into Isiah Kinloch’s apartment and broke a bottle over his head, the North Charleston resident called 911. After cops arrived on that day in 2015, they searched the injured man’s home and found an ounce of marijuana. So they took $1,800 in cash from his apartment and kept it. When Eamon Cools-Lartigue was driving on Interstate 85 in Spartanburg County, deputies stopped him for speeding. The Atlanta businessman wasn’t criminally charged in the April 2016 incident. Deputies discovered $29,000 in his car, though, and decided to take it.
Photos obtained by Prison Legal News appear to reveal the bloody aftermath of a riot that occurred at the Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina around 7:15 p.m. on April 15. The violence, which culminated in the deaths of seven prisoners, was the deadliest event of its sort in the past quarter-century in the United States. A source who requested anonymity and said he is currently imprisoned at the Lee facility in Bishopville provided PLN with a series of photos that appear to have been taken with a cell phone. The images show dead or badly-wounded bodies covered with blood and a blood-soaked floor. PLN could not verify the photos at press time, and our investigation into the authenticity of the graphic pictures remains ongoing.
Under pressure from the state's major utilities, the S.C. House killed a solar bill Tuesday that was intended to protect thousands of jobs and save customers money on their monthly power bills. The bill's defeat, a stunning reversal from a House vote last week, brought withering criticism from many lawmakers, who said the House caved in to opposition by Duke Energy and SCE&G, derailing the legislation. Utilities have expressed concern about how competition from solar could affect them. State Rep. James Smith, the bill's chief sponsor, also blamed Republican Gov. Henry McMaster. Smith, a Democratic candidate for governor and potential opponent to McMaster in November's general election, said the Republican urged some lawmakers not to vote for the bill — a point McMaster's office hotly disputed.
By Marina Fang for The Huffington Post - Slager, then an officer in North Charleston, South Carolina, shot Scott while Scott was running away from him. A bystander captured the death on cell phone video. The killing was one of many high-profile cases of police killing unarmed black men in recent years. At Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Slager said that he takes responsibility for Scott’s death, and Scott’s mother, Judy, expressed forgiveness. In May, Slager pleaded guilty to violating Scott’s civil rights by using excessive force. Two other federal charges and a murder charge from the state were dropped in exchange for the guilty plea. “Law enforcement officers have the noble calling to serve and protect,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement Thursday. “Officers who violate anyone’s rights also violate their oaths of honor, and they tarnish the names of the vast majority of officers, who do incredible work. Those who enforce our laws must also abide by them — and this Department of Justice will hold accountable anyone who violates the civil rights of our fellow Americans. On behalf of the Department of Justice, I want to offer my condolences to the Scott family and loved ones.”
By Sarah Rankin for Associated Press - RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The developers of a disputed natural gas pipeline on the U.S. East Coast are considering a major expansion of the project into South Carolina, according to remarks made by an energy company executive and interviews with others in the industry. Opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline said that raises questions about whether Dominion Energy, the project's lead developer, has withheld important information from the public and whether the pipeline is even needed as initially proposed. But business leaders say the pipeline would help lower energy costs and boost economic development in South Carolina. Dan Weekley, Dominion Energy's vice president and general manager of Southern pipeline operations, told attendees at a recent energy conference "everybody knows" the Atlantic Coast Pipeline — currently slated to pass through Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina — is not going to stop there, despite what the current plans say. "We could bring in almost a billion cubic feet (28 million cubic meters) a day into South Carolina," Weekley said, according to an audio recording The Associated Press obtained from a conference attendee. The attendee requested anonymity out of concern for not wanting to harm business or personal relationships. The remarks appear to be the Richmond, Virginia-based company's most direct public signal to date that it intends to expand the pipeline, though industry analysts said the potential has been discussed for years.
By Seanna Adcox for AP News - This week, having spent more than $10 billion, executives with South Carolina Electric & Gas and Santee Cooper acknowledged that all their assumptions were wrong. Worse still: Consumers may have to pay billions more on the rusting remains of two partially-built reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station north of Columbia. “When we started, there was talk of a nuclear renaissance restarting a whole industry in the U.S.,” said Santee Cooper’s chief financial officer, Jeff Armfield. He was among several executives recommending the project be abandoned. The board of the state-owned utility unanimously agreed at a public meeting Monday. “When we started, there was talk of a nuclear renaissance restarting a whole industry in the U.S.,” said Santee Cooper’s chief financial officer, Jeff Armfield. Most of the 18 nuclear projects pending before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission a decade ago have been aborted or suspended indefinitely. None of the 7 projects the NRC licensed are operational. Only one is still being built, in Georgia, at a cost of $100 million a month. Southern Company financial documents filed Wednesday say the project, slated to cost $14 billion, could cost $25 billion or more if completed.
By Thandisizwe Chimurenga for Daily Kos - Sean Groubert, a former South Carolina state trooper, has pleaded guilty to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature for the shooting of Levar Jones at a Columbia gas station in September of 2014. Video from Groubert’s patrol car went viral at a time of heightened scrutiny and anxiety of police executions of unarmed African Americans—immediately after the murders of Mike Brown in Ferguson, John Crawford in Ohio and Eric Garner in New York and just prior to the murder of Tamir Rice in Cleveland and the non-indictment of Darren Wilson for Brown’s murder.
By Adam Johnson for AlterNet - WLTX reports that Kenny was trying to "stand up for her friend" when she filmed the assault, telling Loren Thomas of WLTX, "I was crying, screaming and crying like a baby. I was in disbelief." Both Kenny and her mother are understandably skeptical as to why she was arrested for "disturbing schools." "But looking at the video, who was really disturbing schools?" Kenny's mother told WLTX. "Was it my daughter or the officer who came into the classroom and did that to the young girl?" Ben Fields, the South Carolina police officer whose attack on a black student went viral in a video Monday, has faced previous abuse allegations.
By Nick Visser in Huffington Post - At least five predominantly black churches have caught fire in the last week, including at least three that have been the subject of arson, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports. The string of blazes, which have occurred in four Southern states and Ohio, comes a week after nine people were gunned down at a Charleston, South Carolina, church. Dylann Roof, 21, has been charged with nine counts of homicide and possession of a firearm during commission of a violent crime. An arsonist set fire to the College Hills Seventh Day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Monday. The following day, God’s Power Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia, was gutted by flames.
By Lynette Holloway for the Root, #FreeBree is now trending on Black Twitter and a bail fund has been set up to help Bree Newsome defray the legal costs associated with her arrest for removing the Confederate flag. A woman identified as Bree Newsome was arrested Saturday after climbing the flagpole at the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, S.C., about 6:30 a.m. and removing the Confederate flag, Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org, said in a statement. Robinson, whose group last week started a petition titled “Take Down The Confederate Flag From The South Carolina Capitol,” which has received more than 55,000 signatures, supported the activist. He identified her as a North Carolina educator. A second person was arrested, but his or her identity is not yet known. “The confederate flag was born out of a government defending the enslavement of Black people and resurrected as an emblem for whites violently opposing racial integration,” Robinson said in the statement.