Mayor, chief address violence in Five Points

John Monk had the right idea with that hat. I realized I had a sunburn in the part in my hair when I got back to the office.

That picture of cops lined up in front of the Five Points fountain, which you see as the new header on my main page, was the backdrop for the news conference that Mayor Steve Benjamin and Police Chief Randy Scott held this afternoon to address violence in the neighborhood.

The headline, which news outlets Tweeted right away: One Stanley McBride, 21, has been arrested and charged with second-degree assault and battery in an incident over the weekend. I believe it’s the same incident as on the video, but not 100 percent certain. The way the incident was described certainly sounded like it.

Being sought are two others, Michael Jermel Kendrix, 21, and John Cornelius Sumner, 21. Both are described as Benedict College students. The release I got from the chief doesn’t describe him as a student, but says police first spoke with McBride on the Benedict campus.

Beyond that, the mayor and chief used the presser — where they took questions from the small crowd of citizens assembled as well as the media — to try to assure Columbians that they’re dealing appropriately with a series of incidents with not only public safety implications, but some pretty ominous racial overtones.

Some highlights from the event:

  • More than one reference was made by the mayor to “more boots on the ground… as you see in evidence behind” him, referring to the officers lined up before the fountain. We can expect to see “more aggressive enforcement.”
  • “Five Points is safe, but it can be safer,” said the mayor.
  • Sensitive to criticism from those who would complain about resources being used on Five Points at the expense of the rest of the city both mayor and chief stressed their commitment to enforcement citywide, saying we should expect more “aggressive enforcement” everywhere.
  • Both men said the blame wasn’t all on the kids; indicating there were some bad actors — a “small number” among bar owners, who have overserved the underage. I asked whether he was speaking of specific proprietors, and whether they knew of the city’s displeasure. Yes and yes, said the mayor. “We’re gonna shut you down,” he said.
  • The mayor’s message to “anybody who wants to make trouble: CPD is here and we’re ready for them.”
  • The mayor had a complaint, however — if you want enforcement, you have to communicate with the police. He said he didn’t know how many video phones there were trained on that one beating the other night, but he knows there were only two calls to 911 — and the police were on the scene before they were received.
  • The mayor added a caveat to the tough talk: Even with 100 officers on the scene, they’re not easily able to contain 10,000 revelers after a football game.
  • Asked about loitering, the mayor said, “we will move people along,” but indicated there’d be no arrests unless crimes were committed.
  • A number of references were made to the involvement of the CPD’s gang unit — but rather than that being a response to a known gang problem, it was presented as a way of determining whether there is gang involvement, and if so, the extent of it.
  • One nicely dressed young white guy who lives in the neighborhood indicated he needed more assurances, saying, “I need to be able to tell my wife that we don’t have to move to Lexington.” The man added that there was a definite difference since he’d moved in from Shandon 18 months ago.
  • Noelle Phillips of The State asked about race. The mayor said the things one says, as a lawyer, to that: That “crime knows no color” and “We are going to enforce the laws equally and fairly.” Beyond that, the racial buzz that’s been underlying this thing all week was not outwardly expressed.

I spoke with a couple of Five Points merchants who were there before the mayor arrived. James D. McCallister, owner of Loose Lucy’s, made an interesting point that I later heard echoed by another in the crowd. He said he was an advocate of the ban on indoor smoking, but it’s had an unintended consequence: The creation of a permanent sidewalk party, which is large and unstable, especially on big football weekends. Adding to the problem is that kids who are too young to get into the bars are joining that sidewalk crowd, adding to the volatility.

Debbie McDaniel, owner of Revente and Sid and Nancy, said she is just “sick at heart” over the violence. Debbie, you may remember, has shown her support for the police in the past by purchasing two state-of-the-art flak vests for officers who patrol the district. Debbie lamented that we didn’t have these problems, to this extent, when she and I were young. That sort of led to a free-association suggestion: “Make weed legal. Let these kids smoke dope and not drink.” She immediately told me not to use that, then laughed and said what the hell, go ahead…

This was about 10 minutes before the presser. The crowd got bigger.

17 thoughts on “Mayor, chief address violence in Five Points

  1. Debbie McDaniel

    Yes, it’s true that I said that and I also told the cops the same thing. I was a stoner back in the day and don’t think I turned out too bad.

  2. bud

    By the looks of the photo of the cops at the top we can at least sleep well at night knowing the donut shops are well protected.

  3. Mab

    “I need to be able to tell my wife that we don’t have to move to Lexington.”


    I’d like to hear more of this guy’s shpiel.

  4. Doug Ross

    ” the racial buzz that’s been underlying this thing all week was not outwardly expressed.”

    Is is ever expressed by the Mayor (current or previous)?

    Someday we’ll have a meaningful dialogue about the issues that are related to race. You’d think a black mayor or black President would find a way to speak to everyone about the challenges.

  5. Kathryn Fenner

    Doug may wish to note that The State is reporting that a Clemson and Two Notch Zaxby’s got robbed….it isn’t so safe out there in The Village!

    I am Number Six

  6. Doug Ross


    Do we really want to keep count? Want to bet $5 on each robbery in our respective zip codes over the next month?

  7. Doug Ross

    Here’s the top three stories on The at this moment:

    “University of South Carolina student charged with hit-and-run, drug possession”

    A University of South Carolina student accused of hitting a parked car outside Five Points early Friday has been arrested.

    — Second suspect in Five Points beating arrested
    University of South Carolina student arrested for allegedly carrying loaded gun in Five Points

    — University of South Carolina student arrested for allegedly carrying loaded gun in Five Points

    Just another Friday in Five Points…

  8. `Kathryn Braun Fenner

    Note they are being arrested. Who knows how many are carrying out your way? Also note the per capita difference!

  9. Doug Ross

    “Candidate Obama made an excellent speech about race in 2008.”

    I guess the issue of race in America was resolved then.

  10. jday

    I know I’m days late on this, but I’m with Debbie. Never seen a stoned person want to fight or drive 90 mph. (Although they will kinda drift off if you’re talking to them and drive 35 on the interstate.)

  11. Kathryn Fenner

    One speech isn’t going to resolve matters, but the speech did speak to everyone about the challenges.

  12. Brad

    By the way, someone who lives in that district emailed me to ask whether the District 3 city councilman, Moe Baddourah, was present at the news conference.

    He was. You can sort of see part of his head, just past Chief Scott, in the picture at the top of this post.

    Neither he, nor Cameron Runyan, whom you can also see, spoke during the formal part of the event, although I saw them both speaking with folks informally afterwards.

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