Pine Ridge citizen organizing to protest mayor’s actions and council’s inaction
Pine Ridge, SC (Paul Kirby) - Judith Cooper, a concerned citizen of the Town of Pine Ridge, has decided that enough is enough following Tuesday night's resignation of the town's latest interim police chief. Cooper has organized a peaceful protest and petition signing that will be held on Saturday afternoon.
Cooper said in a message to The Lexington Ledger Friday she has organized a peaceful protest that will start at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 17, 2020. It will be held at the Pine Ridge Town Hall on Fish Hatchery Road. During that protest, there will be an opportunity for citizens of the town to sign a petition Cooper has written requesting that the mayor step down. Cooper said she wanted other residents to join her to, “let the mayor know we are done with his interfering!” Cooper said that she and other citizens feel Pine Ridge needs its own police department run by police officers.
Cooper pointed out that in the three years since Robert Wells was elected as the mayor and appointed himself to be the police commissioner, there have been at least five different people to hold the police chief’s role. Each has left quickly complaining that Mayor Wells acts as if he were the police chief, constantly meddling in and micromanaging the police department’s operations. The small-town department had seen approximately 11 officers come and go during that same period.
For Cooper, the resignation of Interim Police Chief Vincent Silano and former Interim Police Chief Frankie Neeley was the final straw. When she saw that in the news, she knew it was time to stop the madness, organize her neighbors, and really make an effort do something about the issues that had ruined the town’s police department.
Cooper says that since Tuesday, she has been in regular contact with Councilmember Beth Sturkie about Saturday’s event. Sturkie is the only council member serving on Pine Ridge’s town council that seems to question anything that the mayor and other council members of the tiny town’s Public Safety Committee does. Cooper said she hopes that as many of the town's citizens that are able to turn out will come and sign her petition. She's also taken the time to make and distribute some fliers, get organized, invite the media, and ask neighbors to join her at the town hall Saturday to protest.
The Pine Ridge Town Hall is located at 2757 Fish Hatchery Rd, West Columbia, SC 29172. Everyone is welcome but Cooper ask that only residents of the town sign the petition.