Skepticism and hope for equity impacts of Charleston 10-year plan

By Health Ellison, Charleston City Paper

The city of Charleston’s update to its 10-year comprehensive plan at a time of social upheaval seems serendipitous. With conversations about race and reconciliation hurled into the spotlight over recent months. With “strength in diversity” as a core value of the new plan, activists and Black leaders remain cautious of the city’s claims of attempted racial equity.

“This plan really is an amazing opportunity, I just don’t have any faith in this current city council, this current mayor,” said Charleston Activist Network director Tamika Gadsden. “This plan is the right thing, it’s the enforcement of the plan that I’m leery of.”

Local Group Calls For More Frequency Along CARTA Bus Routes

March 2, 2019. The Charleston Chronicle.

Last week, the Charleston Area Justice Ministry (CAJM) along with the ACLU of South Carolina, Citizens Climate Lobby, Best Friends of Lowcountry Transit, Charleston Climate Coalition, and the Center for the Study of Slavery Social Justice Working Group held a press conference at the Cherokee United Methodist Church to show support for increased bus frequency. The average bus in Charleston runs on a frequency of once every hour making life extremely difficult for the 11,000 people who rely on public transportation every day, the group contends.

Last year, thousands of people gathered under the banner of CAJM to push for more frequent buses – specifically on North Charleston routes with high transit-dependent ridership. They are carrying that campaign into 2020.

How the fight for racial justice pushed Charleston beyond the segregated hour

February 24, 2020. Religion News Service.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (RNS) — On a Monday night in April 2016, more than 2,000 people packed into Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston. The crowd included black and white Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, as well as Reform Jews, Unitarians, local activists and other community members. They weren’t there for worship but to confront racial bias in policing practices.

The gathering was the culmination of months of work by the Charleston Area Justice Ministry, which began in the intimacy of private homes the previous fall. People shared stories of the concerns that kept them up at night. A common refrain, particularly of black residents, was being stopped by the police for no apparent reason. The practice, known as an “investigatory stop,” had led to the murder of a black man named Walter Scott by a North Charleston police officer.

Parents push Pinellas Schools to speed up ‘restorative practices’

November 12, 2019. WTSP.COM

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A grassroots group of concerned parents, grandparents and career educators stood in support of one another at Tuesday’s Pinellas County School Board meeting. Each of them are members of F.A.S.T. (Faith and Action for Strength Together) and came to voice concerns over the school district’s implementation of, what is known as, “restorative practices.”

It’s the social science that studies how to strengthen relationships between individuals and social connections within communities, according to the International Institute for Restorative Practices.

The IIRP says, in schools that fully implement restorative practices, student arrest and suspension — and overall racial disparities in discipline — go down. Restorative practices are also said to increase a feeling of safety among teachers and reduce teacher turnover.