By Stan Welch
Tuesday night’s Anderson County Council meeting was more about audience participation than it was legislative action, as supporter and opponents of several hot button issues appeared to speak. The meeting lasted almost four hours as a result of the number of speakers involved.
Approximately a hundred citizens scattered across the main hall at the civic center, maintaining social distance as they waited for their opportunity to speak for or against the removal of Confederate monuments, or the vote for or against making Anderson County a Second Amendment sanctuary county. A number of people also spoke in opposition to a major residential development slated for construction in Council Brett Sanders’ District Four.
The establishment of the county as a sanctuary against any efforts to infringe on the individual right to bear arms drew the largest crowd by far, as dozens of gun owners wore red stickers proclaiming that “Guns Save Lives’. Their numbers were even more impressive in light of the fact that the passage of the ordinance was largely a done deal. District Three Councilman Ray Graham, who worked endlessly to help craft and pass the measure was unfortunately committed to a municipal association meeting elsewhere, but five members of the Council voted in favor. District Two Councilwoman Gracie Floyd did not, even though she had voted in its favor on second reading.
A smattering of people, including Anderson Democratic Party chairwoman Tonya LaShawn Winbush, spoke in favor of removing the Confederate soldier memorial from the front of the county courthouse. No formal request has been made, and no such measure has been introduced by the Council, which owns the location. Additionally, the S.C. Heritage Act protects such monuments and memorials.
During the height of the civil unrest created by Antifa and the Black Lives Matter organizations several weeks ago, the statue was vandalized with graffiti, but was cleaned and restored within a day.
A few BLM members stood outside with a banner calling for an end to white supremacy, while a small group of monument supporters stood by as well. Both groups remained peaceful and civil.
In other business, council approved incentive packages for two different economic development projects, as well as establishing a six month moratorium on issuing permits for RV parks or tiny home developments. The moratorium is designed to give the county time to refine the standards for such projects. Three zoning requests also advanced to second reading.