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SC Gov. McMaster says National Guard ‘on alert’ if violent protests continue

More than 600 people gather Friday in front of the Boone County Courthouse to protest the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. [Don Shrubshell/Tribune/TNS]

Gov. Henry McMaster at a press conference on Sunday called for peaceful protests while warning that state officials, law enforcement and the National Guard are “on alert” if violent protests continue across South Carolina.

The announcement comes one day after Columbia joined other cities around the country to protest the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck. Many of those protests have turned violent, however, resulting in vandalism, burning buildings and police brutality.

Similarly in Columbia, police cars were set ablaze, smoke canisters were fired at protesters, windows to businesses were shattered, looting occurred and gun shots rang out. In all, more than a dozen people were arrested and a 15 officers were injured. A TV reporter was also sent to the hospital.

“Everybody ought to be angry at what happened in Minneapolis with George Floyd. There’s absolutely no excuse for that,” McMaster said. “… We welcome conversation, we welcome protest, we welcome people speaking their mind, exercising their constitutional rights … but also we do not tolerate lawlessness and violence and the destruction of property and harm to our people.”

In a trio of tweets Saturday, McMaster said he was moved to see state residents gather at the State House to peacefully protest the “inexcusable taking of George Floyd’s life” before expressing his disappointment in how the night ended.

“They peacefully channeled their anger into song by asking for God’s grace,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, outside agitators have descended on our state to take advantage of this situation by inciting violence.

“This type of lawlessness does not represent the values of our great state and it will not be tolerated,” he continued.


©2020 The State (Columbia, S.C.)

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