Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

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June 21

The Post and Courier on local police reforms:

The concept of police officers de-escalating potentially dangerous encounters is relatively new and opposite of what was standard operating procedure for decades: Counter the least resistance with overwhelming force.

The essential idea is to prevent traffic stops, drunk-and-disorderly arrests and other misdemeanors from turning deadly, and law enforcement has come a long way. It’s been professionalized and regulated in almost every way imaginable. The by-the-book set of rules has grown immensely.

Yet we still see what seems like a never-ending stream of videos showing what appear to be clear abuses, so Congress is again trying to find a starting point: What to do about the state of policing in the United States, specifically how to prevent unjustifiable killings, notably among black Americans.

It’s an appropriate role for Congress, and one we have some hope will result in reforms, despite the partisan clashes over what to do about no-knock warrants, chokeholds, qualified immunity, letting bad cops move from agency to agency and other details. It’s also one that our Legislature needs to engage.

In the meantime, though, there’s plenty police chiefs and sheriffs can do.

There’s nothing to stop local law enforcement agencies from enacting fail-safe bodycam policies. South Carolina was ahead of most other states when it mandated all officers wear bodycams five years ago, but policies about how they must be used remain variable and weak.

There’s nothing to stop police from working closer with public mental health workers, addiction specialists or social workers, or doing a better job of policing themselves for bad officers and bad actions.

Charleston police Chief Luther Reynolds has suggested revising use-of-force tactics that have been mostly unchanged in decades. Chokeholds that cut off air could be restricted, along with “sleeper” holds that cut off blood to the brain. Certainly, we have to give officers latitude when they are truly fighting for their lives. But we also have to stop making it so easy to abuse that latitude.

The president signed an executive order Wednesday that includes most of these ideas, and Sen. Tim Scott followed it up with next day with a bill aimed at establishing federal law. We hope some good comes of it.

Meanwhile, patrol officers are going to be listening mainly to their watch commanders, watch commanders to their lieutenants and lieutenants to their captains and chiefs.

Locally, Charlestonians should look to their chiefs and sheriff for leadership, and we encourage them to speak out about what they’re doing to improve their departments. That’s where the change that matters most will happen first.

We believe Chief Reynolds and North Charleston police Chief Reggie Burgess are ready and willing to act on meaningful changes where the rubber meets the road, with or without changes in federal law. Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon needs to get on board.

Online: https://www.postandcourier.com

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June 21

The Index-Journal on removing Confederate monuments and the Confederate flag:

Heritage.

The word has an honorable ring to it, doesn’t it? After all, don’t we often refer to our “proud heritage” when speaking of our family lineage? So, wasn’t the Heritage Act of 2000 a proud moment in South Carolina’s history?

It certainly was a moment in the state’s history, a moment viewed as a decent compromise for many, a coup for others. But let’s venture back a few decades for some perspective.

The year is 1961. In what was billed as a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, the Confederate battle flag was hoisted above the Statehouse dome. Generally, an event such as a 100th commemoration might enjoy as much as a year’s duration. Only, the flag flew beneath the Palmetto State’s flag and the U.S. flag for nearly 40 years.

So wait a minute. The state capitol was engaged in a decades long celebration of the start of the Civil War? Odd? No, not really. What seemed innocent enough in denoting a pivotal event in the state’s history really was a move as sly as any pulled off by Gen. Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion. The 100th anniversary was the excuse needed to thumb the state’s nose at the civil rights movement and gird itself in a continuing battle with the federal government over state’s rights.

But in 2000, after much debate as cries for the battle flag’s removal from the Statehouse dome became too deafening to ignore, a compromise of sorts was struck. It was like a poker game.

“Tell ya what. we’ll bring the flag down, but it’s gotta be given a place of honor on the Statehouse grounds.”

“Well, how about you toss in an African American monument to balance things out.”

“OK. And let’s have some legislation to make sure nobody can remove or mess with all these monuments. Whaddya say?”

“Deal.”

And so it went. The state’s Heritage Act brought the battle flag down from the dome, as was appropriate since it seemed odd that South Carolina appeared to be part of the United States and had its sovereignty as a state in the union while appearing to yet be tied to the Confederate States of America.

But while many a casual observer visiting Columbia might have to squint hard to see the battle flag when it flew over the dome, there was no missing it when it hit the Statehouse grounds.

It’s been 20 years since the act was passed. Laws can be passed and laws can be reviewed and changed, which became vividly evident when then-Gov. Nikki Haley stood up to the “Heritage not Hate” group and called for the removal of the battle flag from where it had been placed in 2000. It was a heartfelt, sympathetic and certainly symbolic gesture in the wake of the killing of the Emanuel Nine in Charleston.

The time has come to again take a stand and revisit the Heritage Act. Our General Assembly can be maddeningly slow at times — many times — and as columnist Andy Brack points out today, it’s time to stop kicking this can down the road because the road to progress among our state’s residents is blocked by monuments and flags that represent an era of oppression and suppression in our state, flags and monuments that are hailed as sacred to white supremacist groups, such as the Klan.

If it’s really all about heritage and not hate, why allow the KKK and others to usurp the symbol as they have? If it’s truly about heritage and history, what then is wrong with placing statues and flags and other memorabilia in a museum where their history can clearly be shared?

Are we not misguided when we care more about monuments and symbols of the past than we care about ensuring fellow human beings truly have equality now and in the future?

State Reps. Craig Gagnon, Anne Parks, John McCravy and Stewart Jones, how about paving the way this week? State Sens. Floyd Nicholson, Mike Gambrell and Shane Massey, how about joining hands and joining this effort?

Doing so, you could be symbols and agents for meaningful change.

Online: http://www.indexjournal.com/

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June 21

The Times and Democrat on reducing food waste in South Carolina:

The No. 1 item thrown away in South Carolina is food. That’s correct. Estimates are that each of us throws away about 20 pounds of food per month – an estimated 240 pounds a year.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, S.C. Department of Commerce and S.C. Department of Agriculture are partners in a campaign to reduce the waste.

Don’t Waste Food S.C. is aimed at educating and empowering individuals, businesses and communities to take action by preventing, composting or donating surplus food. The campaign is working toward a goal of reducing food waste in the state by 50% by 2030.

The partners work together to connect food surpluses to those in need, enhance infrastructure for composting and educate consumers, communities and businesses about what they can do to join the initiative.

Efforts to combat food waste have taken on a new dimension during the coronavirus emergency.

As schools, restaurants, and other businesses and institutions closed earlier this year in an attempt to curb the pandemic, farmers scrambled to find markets for their products. And with unemployment soaring, many South Carolinians have had to seek food assistance.

Thus finding a way to get food from the farm into the hands of those needing it is as logical as necessary.

Enter the nonprofit South Carolina Advocates for Agriculture, a non-profit created in 2005 to help promote agriculture in the Palmetto State. The organization is buying food from South Carolina farmers and distributing it to food banks.

Certified South Carolina and South Carolina Advocates for Agriculture are partnering on Farmers to Food Banks. They aim to raise $500,000, with several donors already having made commitments.

“Farmers to Food Banks solves two problems with one charitable effort: helping the needy while supporting the South Carolina farmers who work hard to feed us all,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers, who serves as an adviser to Advocates for Agriculture. “People want to lend a hand during these difficult times, and this is one simple way they can do so.”

The South Carolina program complements the federal Farmers to Families Food Box program, a COVID-19 response effort to use tax dollars to buy and distribute commodities. With a quick launch and brief fundraising period, South Carolina’s Farmers to Food Banks program aims to rapidly address local needs by buying food and distributing it to Feeding America food banks, potentially filling gaps in the federal effort. The program will accept applications from distributors, 15 of which have formally expressed their interest already.

Farmers to Food Banks is not S.C. Advocates for Agriculture’s first relief effort. Previous partnerships include the 2015 flood relief effort Plant It Forward SC and fundraising campaigns to provide scholarships for the South Carolina Commissioner’s School for Agriculture.

Helping our farmers while getting food to those in need stands to be another success. Those wishing to donate to or participate in Farmers to Food Banks can contact Cristina Key at ckey@scda.sc.gov or 803-734-2190 for more information.

Online: https://thetandd.com/