Monday, June 19, 2017

Woman climbs Angel Oak, leading to 5-hour standoff with police

Out on a limb

Posted by Dustin Waters on Mon, Jun 19, 2017 at 9:12 AM

The 400-year-old Angel Oak on Johns Island was the scene of a lengthy standoff on Sunday - FILE
  • file
  • The 400-year-old Angel Oak on Johns Island was the scene of a lengthy standoff on Sunday
A five-hour standoff took place Sunday as local police attempted to talk one woman down from Charleston’s historic Angel Oak.

At around 11 a.m. Sunday morning, Charleston police and emergency crews responded to the Angel Oak on Johns Island following reports that an individual had scaled the 400-year-old tree and was shouting obscenities. Once on the scene, authorities realized that an unidentified woman had climbed the fence at the closed Angel Oak Park and perched herself atop the natural landmark.

According to a statement released by the Charleston Police Department, officers entered the park and made contact with the woman, who refused to abandon her post. Police say the women initially responded to requests for her to climb down from the tree by repositioning herself on a branch approximately 35 feet above the ground.

After five hours of trying to talk the woman down from the tree, she finally heeded requests from law enforcement officers and climbed down from the Angel Oak without further incident. The woman was met on the ground by members of the Charleston Police Department’s Crisis Negotiation Unit, Charleston Fire Department, the city’s Urban Forestry Division, and EMS workers.

Once safely on the ground, the woman was transported to a hospital for evaluation. No injuries were reported

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Re-watching Barack Obama’s eulogy of Clementa Pinckney two years later

A Call to Action

Posted by Sam Spence on Sat, Jun 17, 2017 at 1:37 PM

President Barack Obama delivered the eulogy at the funeral for Celementa Pinckney at TD Arena on June 26, 2015 - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • President Barack Obama delivered the eulogy at the funeral for Celementa Pinckney at TD Arena on June 26, 2015
We all remember when then-President Barack Obama drifted into singing "Amazing Grace" as the hopeful capstone of the somber remembrance of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, killed two years ago today. But for 38 minutes before that, Obama reflected on the legacy left by "Clem," as he called him, and set out a call to action to learn and follow Pinckney's example.
If you haven't watched the speech since 2015, or maybe you only saw the end, you should watch it in its entirety. The video is below.

Of course, Pinckney wasn't the only person killed at Mother Emanuel that night and many words have been said in remembrance of the nine lives cut short and innumerable others forever changed. But Obama's eulogy of Pinckney, especially the examination of his faith and core beliefs, could be applied to each of the members of his flock lost that night—"bound together by a common commitment to God," Obama noted.

From the U.S. Archives transcript (in full below):
As a nation, out of this terrible tragedy, God has visited grace upon us, for he has allowed us to see where we’ve been blind. He has given us the chance, where we’ve been lost, to find our best selves. We may not have earned it, this grace, with our rancor and complacency, and short-sightedness and fear of each other — but we got it all the same. He gave it to us anyway. He’s once more given us grace. But it is up to us now to make the most of it, to receive it with gratitude, and to prove ourselves worthy of this gift.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Honoring the Emanuel Nine

Two Years Gone

Posted by Dustin Waters on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 at 5:23 PM

  • Jonathan Boncek
Nine lives were lost June 17, 2015. Lives — lived in service to their friends, family, and community — that served as inspiration to others long before they became martyrs.

Rev. Clementa Pinckney
Rev. Clementa Pinckney - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Rev. Clementa Pinckney

Rev. Clementa Pinckney was an imposing, yet gentle man, an inspiring pastor and respectful lawmaker, who dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel and protecting his flock.

Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr.
Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr. - PROVIDED
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  • Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr.
Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr. was a veteran and dedicated public servant. Two years ago, on June 17, 2015, when shots rang out inside Emanuel AME Church, Simmons rushed to check on his wounded pastor.

Myra Thompson
Myra Thompson - PROVIDED
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  • Myra Thompson

Myra Thompson was a former schoolteacher and counselor who had just begun to follow her calling as a preacher. Her husband, Rev. Anthony Thompson, has said her smile and the look in her eyes was always enough to stop him in his tracks.

Ethel Lance
Ethel Lance - PROVIDED
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  • Ethel Lance

Ethel Lance was funny and outgoing, but the loss of her daughter to cancer in 2013 weighed heavily on Lance. She would sing to lift her spirits, and served as a committed custodian to Mother Emanuel.

Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor
Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor

Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor wished to counsel those looking to further their education. Still she found time to serve her church, with her four daughters always close behind.

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Sharonda Coleman-Singleton

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton was a loving mother as well, who shaped the lives of countless young athletes.

Cynthia Graham-Hurd
Cynthia Graham-Hurd - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Cynthia Graham-Hurd

Cynthia Graham-Hurd shared her love through literature. Now her name lives on through the library dedicated in her honor.

Susie Jackson
Susie Jackson - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Susie Jackson

Susie Jackson was the oldest victim that night two years ago. In her 87 years, she met all those she encountered with strength and kindness.

Tywanza Sanders
Tywanza Sanders - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Tywanza Sanders

Tywanza Sanders remains a symbol of the potential lost that night inside Mother Emanuel. Fresh out of school, he was talented and committed to guiding his younger family members to follow the right path. A tireless writer, he also had plans to open his own barbershop. Standing up to his murderer on the night of his death, Sanders called out for the killing to end. In the wake of his death, Sanders’ mother said he left behind enough of his poetry to last her the rest of her life.

Now two years removed from the deaths of these nine individuals, it becomes less a matter of assessing their loss, and more a duty to carry on in their memory. To do the work that needs to be done. To bring to an end the cycle of violence that robbed them from this world.

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The Agenda: Emanuel two years later; Theorist's speculation may have shut down Chs. port; Trump coming again?

Loftis' weird joke

Posted by Sam Spence on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 at 11:49 AM

  • Jonathan Boncek

Tomorrow, Emanuel AME Church is marking two years since the 2015 mass murder of nine of its worshippers during a Bible study in the church basement by a white supremacist. Two years later, the church leadership and its followers are still deeply affected by the loss and continue working to live by their loved ones' examples. Source: P&C

Historian Lonnie G. Bunch III, director of the Smithsonian’s popular National Museum for African American History and Culture, visited Emanuel yesterday as part of a CofC series on race and justice. Bunch: "I’ve been around the world, given many lectures, but nothing humbles me like being here." Source: P&C

Op-ed by Emanuel widower Anthony Thompson, husband of Myra: "Make gun reform a tribute to Emanuel victims"

Two of S.C.'s largest hospital networks, Palmetto Health and Greenville Health System, are planning to merge. Together, they claim 1.2 million patients and about a third of the state's Medicaid patients. Source: The State, P&C

After visiting Washington yesterday, Gov. Henry McMaster says President Donald Trump may visit S.C. again "in the near future." Source: P&C

Speculation from a YouTuber who traffics in conspiracy theories may have been what prompted calls to the the Coast Guard and led to the shut down the Wando terminal on Wednesday night over reports of a 'dirty bomb' on board a containership docked there. Source: NYT, P&C

For his part, state Treasurer Curtis Loftis dismissed the threat with a weird joke at 6am about a 'pretty blonde.' Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant was quick to call out Loftis. Source: P&C

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S.C. attorney general joins nationwide investigation into opioid manufacturers

A bitter pill

Posted by Dustin Waters on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 at 9:08 AM

As one of a handful of states where the amount of painkiller prescriptions outnumbers residents, South Carolina has fallen into the growing opioid epidemic that has struck much of the nation.

With almost 600 opioid-related deaths across the state in 2015, 49 of which were reported in Charleston County, it’s easy to see the toll that comes with ranking 11th in the nation in the number of opioid prescriptions per person. Now, along with a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from across the United States, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson will assist in conducting an ongoing investigation to determine if manufacturers have engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing and sale of opioids.

“South Carolina has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic,” said Wilson in an announcement this week. “Overdoses of prescription and illicit opioids have claimed the lives of thousands of South Carolinians in the last five years. Opioid abuse cuts across all demographic lines and impacts people from all walks of life. Over the past few months, the Office of the Attorney General has been having an ongoing dialogue with industry participants, state and federal regulators, and policymakers to determine the appropriate direction of this office’s investigation. I am committed to working with stakeholders throughout the state on ways to combat this epidemic.”

Although no specific targets of the investigation have been named, a statement from Wilson’s office states that subpoenas will be issued for documents and testimony to discover what role manufacturers and others may have played in creating and prolonging the opioid epidemic, which played a part in 33,091 deaths nationwide in 2015.

The attorney general’s announcement comes after South Carolina state legislators passed a series of bills aimed at providing more oversight for how opioids are prescribed and hopefully encourage bystanders to seek emergency assistance if they encounter a possibly overdose.

South Carolina doctors attempting to prescribe some forms of painkillers will now be required to consult a statewide database. Information on both the prescribing doctor and the patient receiving the medication will be recorded thanks to the prescription-monitoring bill that was recently passed. Ideally, this system will cut down on the number of patients who receive an excessive number of prescriptions for pain medications that can prove to be highly addictive.

South Carolina lawmakers have also passed a version of the so-called “Good Samaritan” law that will allow individuals to report drug overdoses without the threat of arrest or prosecution for drug charges — meaning that people will be less-likely to think twice before saving a life.

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