By Lee Turner
This past weekend was one of those times when I’m reminded of how much I love the spirit of Greenville.
The last weekend of May 2020, when all of America, already in the grip of COVID19, was on edge over police brutality and vigilante justice against people of color, when protest rallies erupted in cities everywhere across America and we watched in horror as city after city seem to go up in flames, a chaos of looting and destruction.
And then, along comes Greenville SC. We knew how to do it. #YeahThatGreenville. Here’s what happened in our town.
Three march/rallies were held on Main St over the course of the weekend. Were they flawless? No. There were a handful of arrests each day, but the detainees were generally agitators or folks who arrived late to the rally and overstayed their welcome, out on Main St, well after dark.
The real beauty of the rallies and marches in Greenville was that there was NO VIOLENCE by the protestors. Nothing got burned. No plumes of smoke anywhere. No store-front glass was broken. No looting occurred.
I am exceedingly proud of that distinction. It says something about the spirit of our city, the camaraderie among Greenville’s activist leaders and the harmonious relationships with law enforcement these leaders have built. We all know it takes a village and this weekend demonstrated just that.
I ventured to Falls Park myself on Sunday, staying on the fringes of the generally masked crowd. What a sight to behold! After a bit, the crowd moved out onto Main St and began the march up to One City Plaza. About halfway up Main St, I crawled up on a bench to video the crowd continuing and continuing as far as the eye could see, both north and south. It was amazing. More people filling Main Street than I had ever seen. Thousands. All races, ages, and genders. I tell you, it filled my heart and made me proud.
Of course, peaceful rallies are just one step in curing the ills of our criminal justice system. But here in Greenville, it was a step in the right direction.