Cities, businesses & citizens start their week with many questions after Columbia unrest this we
Cayce, SC (Paul Kirby) – The citizens of Lexington are coming to life Monday morning with questions and concerns regarding what the new week will bring. Over the weekend, as turmoil filled the streets of Columbia, the unrest at times became violent. With just the width of the Congaree separating the City of Columbia and Lexington County, most government and law enforcement leaders here knew the odds that civil unrest could spill over to our peaceful communities.
When the protest turned from peaceful civil disobedience to something more like rioting, law enforcement agencies on the west side of the river put their plans and diligent training into action. The cities of West Columbia and Cayce were the most vulnerable and with that knowledge, those departments mobilized under a command structure that could monitor, manage, and deploy a number of special assets quickly. Those had already gathered together just in case they were needed. In short, our men and women in blue were ready to defend the cities and Lexington County should uninvited troublemakers head our way.
West Columbia’s Mayor Tem Miles declared a state of emergency Saturday night and implemented a curfew to protect the citizens and business there. Sunday, Cayce’s Mayor Elise Partin also enacted a curfew after that city’s council voted to to do so in a special meeting that day.
Under S.C. Code Section 5-7-250(d), the laws give these governments the ability to act in an emergency by implementing a citywide curfew. In their communication to the public notifying them of the curfew, Cayce’s leaders used language that made it clear what you could or couldn’t do. The specific wording of their action is as follows. “A citywide curfew is hereby established and imposed beginning at 8:30 pm on Sunday, May 31, 2020, restricting the travel of individuals and lasting until 6:00 am Monday, June 1, 2020 with the exception of individuals traveling to and from work, for work purposes, or for healthcare. During the hours of curfew, individuals shall stay in their homes and not travel through or congregate in the streets, sidewalks, waterways, alleyways, parking lots, public ways, public rights-of-way, and/or other public spaces in the City of Cayce, except as provided herein. Any person violating any provision of this Ordinance shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be subject to punishment not to conflict with that set forth in S. C. Code section 16-7-10 or other applicable provisions of State law.”
Cayce Mayor, Elise Partin, noted the importance of input from there Cayce’s staff. Partin stated, “Between myself and our Cayce staff, we have reached out to several of our Cayce businesses about the impact of a curfew. They have all been incredibly supportive of this initiative for the safety of our citizens, their property and to provide our assistance in ensuring safety across the Midlands.”
Cayce and other Lexington County law enforcement agencies were ready to lend a hand should the violence in Columbia overtax their law enforcement agencies resources. City Manager Tracy Hegler stated that should the need arise, the City is prepared to assist the City of Columbia in closing the Blossom Street Bridge as an added safety measure.
Now that the sun is coming up Monday, people who were already cautious and concerned as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic will face new unknowns as their lives continue an ease back toward some sort of normalcy again. The issue, the unknown, will certainly have them hyper vigilant. It may also have a psychological and emotional effect on some that now go to bed each night wondering what new and frightening issues will be tossed at them this tomorrow.