By Stan Welch
Black activism made an appearance at Tuesday night’s Anderson County Council meeting, as members of the family of Charles Mackey and their supporters came before the Council seeking assistance in the matter of his death.
Wearing Black Lives Matter apparel, approximately twenty friends and relatives of Mackey, a fifty seven year old black man who they say was murdered in Iva earlier this summer, came before the Council to ask their assistance in getting answers to their questions.
Led by Traci Fant, who represents a group known as Freedom Fighters of Upstate South Carolina, the group stood quietly in place as Fant and several members of the Mackey family politely and quietly addressed the Council.
The spectators held up fliers with Mackey’s picture on them. They had sought and received a ten minute slot on the evening’s agenda; a slot that Council voted to extend when the ten minutes ran out.
Fant addressed the Council, outlining the details of the case, and asking how no arrests could be made in ninety days, with the amount of witness testimony present. The legal system in Anderson County has failed this family. The judicial system has failed them as well. They have come to you for help in resolving the murder of their loved one.”
Mary Mackey, the victim’s sister, spoke next. She pointed out that no arrests have yet been made in her brother’s murder despite the presence of several witnesses. She spoke of what was once a friendship between her brother and a white neighbor in their Iva community.
“They used to hang out together and got along fine. Then Charles began an affair with the white wife of the neighbor’s friend. That’s when they reportedly started using racial slurs and rebel flags, and things got ugly.”
Jessie Mackey, a niece of the dead man, also spoke, saying that the Anderson County Sheriff’s investigators spent more time trying to damage Mackey’s reputation than they did investigating his ambush murder.
“We are not here looking for trouble. We came to you because you have the power to help us. We are decent people. We work, we pay our taxes,and we vote just like everyone else. You are sworn to serve the people, and we are just asking for some help.”
Mackey was shot several times with a high powered rifle upon returning to his home on Leona Drive on July 27, according to Fant.
She also added that several witnesses from the community reported hearing James Hyatt boasting about what he had done to Mackey. According to Fant, no arrest was ever made, and Hyatt has since moved out of the state.
The last speaker was Mackey’s elderly mother, Mary Lou Mackey, who had to be supported by her daughter as she spoke. “Charles was my son”, she said weakly. “He wasn’t no perfect boy, but God gave him to me fifty seven years ago, and they ain’t had no right to take him from me. Somebody needs to go to jail from what they did. I need to see justice done, so that I can have some peace in my heart. And I want it now, not two or three years down the road.”
Council Chairman Tommy Dunn asked that the group, or at least the family members, remain until the break or until the end of the meeting, so that he could speak with them privately. “If you folks can just stay around a while, we can talk. I assure you we will check into this and see if we can’t get you some answers.”