Reported by Heather Hawkins, WKDK in Newberry
About 200 people gathered in Newberry’s Wise St. Park on Saturday for a rally and march organized by the New Black Panther party. This spotlight on Newberry follows the murder and dragging of Anthony Hill on June 2 and has struck a nerve within the black community both here in Newberry and around the country.
The crowd at Wise St. Park consisted of long time activists from as far away as Louisiana, reporters from as far away as New York, and a large number of Newberry residents. One of the Newberry residents WKDK spoke to says they attended the rally because they believe that “despite the other details of the case dragging a black man behind a truck is the ‘modern day lynching’ and definitely a hate crime.” Others say they believe that these protests can bring unity within the community and shed light on what they see as unequal treatment by law enforcement, the housing authority and local businesses. And others were simply there out of curiosity.
The crowd had grown to more than 300 by the time the march reached the Newberry County Courthouse steps with both white and black observers on the sidelines. At the steps, Washington attorney and New Black Panther leader Malik Zulu Shabazz repeated the groups demands:
1. “Justice” for Anthony Hill
2. That federal hate crime charges be brought in the Anthony Hill case
3. The right to self defense
4. Justice for black residents
5. End of police harassment and racial profiling in SC
6. That the black community demand of itself self improvement
7. Reparations for slavery
While claiming not to be inciting violence, the phrase “by any means necessary” and allusions to violence if Collins is not charged with a hate crime was part of his speech.
US Attorney Bill Nettles has pledged to not make a decision on whether or not to charge Gregory Collins with a hate crime until local, state and federal law enforcement have completed their investigation. Solicitor Jerry Peace has similarly pledged to wait to making a murder indictment or a decision on whether to pursue the death penalty until after the investigation is complete. Gregory Collins, who was arrested for Hill’s murder, remains in custody.