The two black members of the South Carolina congressional delegation attended the funeral for Walter Scott on Saturday and say the tragedy Saturday is an opportunity for change.
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican, grew up in North Charleston where Scott was shot by a white officer last weekend in an incident caught in a dramatic video.
Scott said leaving the funeral that the tragedy is an opportunity for local law enforcement agencies to re-evaluate their operations. On the national level, he said, it’s an opportunity to promote the use of body cameras by police agencies nationwide.
U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, a Democrat and the first black elected to Congress in South Carolina since the Reconstruction era following the Civil War, says that there needs to be minimum standards for law enforcement officers and perhaps national standards.
He says that evaluating an officer has to be more than whether that officer can shoot a gun or can use a stun gun.
As the funeral for Walter Scott ended, Rev. George Hamilton, a minister at W.O.R.D. Ministries, told the overflow crowd that Scott’s shooting “was an act motivated by overt racism.”
Hamilton called Michael Slager, the former officer who shot Scott, a disgrace to the North Charleston Police Department. The congregation Hamilton spoke to included two black members of South Carolina’ congressional delegation, Republican U.S. Sen. Tim Scott and U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, a Democrat.
“We will not indict the entire law enforcement community for the act of one racist,” Hamilton said.
The reverend added that Scott — like many people — wasn’t perfect.
The funeral for Walter Scott got underway with many who waited outside being unable to get into the sanctuary for the service. Organizers put chairs in the church’s vestibule to accommodate the overflow crowd.
The funeral program said Scott expressed his Christian faith by singing in his church choir. The program said he loved his family and friends and embraced others as relatives. The program also said Scott was a true Dallas Cowboys fan. His open casket during a wake in downtown Charleston on Friday showed a Cowboys sign and miniature player figurine near his body.
A tribute from Scott’s family says: “We cannot judge what happens though tears and questions start. We only see what’s visible God sees into the heart.”
The family of Walter Scott arrived at the church where his funeral was being held and were escorted by a group of eight police officers on motorcycles with flashing lights.
Scott’s family arrived at the church in a fleet of three black limousines followed by several other vehicles.
Dozens of mourners who were lined up outside the church held up their cellphones trying to capture the scene as Scott’s casket was unloaded from the hearse and wheeled into the church.
A crowd gathered at W.O.R.D. Ministries Christian Center in Summerville, South Carolina for Walter Scott’s funeral. Scott was fatally shot April 4 after fleeing a traffic stop in North Charleston, about 20 miles away.
The officer who shot 50-year-old Scott, Michael Slager, initially said he fired at Scott after a tussle over his department-issued Taser. However, video recorded by a witness showed the officer shooting Scott eight times as he ran away.
The incident sparked outrage as another instance of a white law enforcement officer fatally shooting an unarmed black man under questionable circumstances.
A hearse being escorted by two police officers on motorcycles drove up as the growing crowd looked on. Mourners waited through a period of light rain while flowers were unloaded and brought inside the sanctuary.