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Pawleys Island mayor calls Black Lives Matter a 'terror organization' in Facebook post

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Brian Henry, mayor of the town of Pawleys Island and owner of Get Carried Away and Palmetto Cheese, is facing public backlash after posting that Black Lives Matter should be treated like a terror organization, among other comments that some have deemed racist and divisive.

In the aftermath of a double murder in Georgetown County on Monday afternoon, Henry publicly posted the following on Tuesday:

“I am sickened by the senseless killings in Georgetown last night.

“2 innocent people murdered. Not 2 thugs or people wanted on multiple warrants. 2 white people defenselessly gunned down by a black man. Tell me, where is the outrage? When and where will we begin rioting and burning down businesses in Georgetown. Answer is simple, it won’t happen. Because we live in a civil society, and it won’t change what happened. The victims’ families and friends will mourn and undoubtedly feel anger and confusion. Can’t imagine their pain. So why do we stand by and allow BLM to lawlessly destroy great American cities and threaten their citizens on a daily basis? Should they have a carte blanche license to pillage and destroy? Why? This has gone on too long. Rise up America. This BLM and Antifa movement must be treated like the terror organizations that they are. Law and order, protection of liberty, and the right of peaceful enjoyment. If we don’t have that, we no longer have a country. My wife cried last night when she read about these murders. I’m sure their family is devastated. This did not have to happen. Does the senseless murder of these people not matter as much because it doesn’t fit the media narrative. You are damn right their lives matter. And we should all be outraged and engaged to demand action and stem the tide of lawless fringe. We can’t stay silent anymore. All lives matter. There I said it. So am I racist now? I think not. How about the POS who just gunned down 3 defenseless white people? You be the judge.

“We need Law and Order. Now!”

Henry was referring to both Charles Nicholas Wall and his stepdaughter, Laura Anderson, being shot and killed after a vehicle collision on U.S. 521 in Georgetown County. 

The Georgetown County Sheriff's Office has charged Ty Sheem Ha Sheem Walters III, 23, of Moncks Corner, with two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and three counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime. He made his first appearance in court Wednesday, where his bond was denied. Walters remains in jail at the Georgetown County Detention Center.

Henry's Facebook post has since been deleted, but was public long enough for residents and organizations alike to offer critical feedback directed at the mayor, who was sworn in last November.

That included a public note from Vincent Davis, the president of the Pawleys Island Civic Club, on the organization's official Facebook page:

"Hello everyone to address Brian Buck Henry remarks who is mayor of the town of Pawleys Island beach side not Pawleys Island we are not the same but Brian Buck Henry count your days, cause we will not allow hate of any kind to separate our community. We will always win with Love for everyone. Pawleys Island Strong!!"

Davis told the Post and Courier that the community should be compassionate about anyone who dies, no matter the color of their skin.

"We have to heal each other, we can't keep dividing us," he said. "Let's not divide anything and let's not forget the real point that people are losing their lives and we need to feel love and compassion for that."

Darlene Booth-Bell, a part-time resident of Pawleys Island, publicly shared this message with the town's Facebook page tagged: 

"Town of Pawleys Island, South Carolina. Our mayor, Brian Henry, seems to have decided to join in the current disinformation and racial division which is tearing our country apart. The interesting thing is, he has never spoke a word about racial injustice, but decides to make a false equivalency with a criminal event which happened to occur between private citizens of different races. I don't remember seeing him march with our beautiful children in the peaceful protest a few months ago in Pawleys? Was he there? Is this who should be speaking for the town? Is this good for the local businesses and property owners who depend on tourist visiting our little piece of paradise? Just FYI, an unarmed black person being killed by an officer sworn to protect and serve, whom is not charged or punished without protest and outrage, is NOT the same thing as a person being killed by a private citizen who is arrested, charged, and certainly will face a harsh sentence as they should. The killing in Georgetown was a horrible tragedy, as I understand it a Moncks Corner individual has been arrested. It appears justice will be served, so why the race baiting posts? Who should protest the fact that it appears justice will be served? I believe Mayor has shown his true heart and does not deserve to represent the Island. Sincerely, a Pawleys Island taxpayer, and part-time resident."

On Wednesday, Henry offered up a public statement about the post:

"Yesterday, I heard about the senseless killing of 2 Georgetown residents. My wife and I know the family of the victims. I was deeply saddened and angered by the gruesome nature of the killing and felt grieved for the family and this community. I typically refrain from social media because of my position as an elected official. But, in this case, I felt compelled to pour out my heart to this family and release some of the emotion I felt, so I drafted a post on Facebook.

"I regret that my post was misinterpreted, and some perceived it as rationally insensitive. My wife and I care deeply about the black community in Pawleys Island and Georgetown County. Our employees and the many organizations that we support have been at the center of our lives since we moved here 20 years ago. I have removed the post because I believe it may have been offensive and insensitive to the very people we care so much about.

"Just like everyone in America, I am deeply frustrated with the racial division and unrest in this country. This incident stoked raw emotion from this community, including me. We need more conversation and understanding, and it is my plan to pursue that.

"I would also like to emphasize that my opinions and comments were posted on my personal Facebook account and in no way reflects the views of the Town of Pawleys Island."

Town of Pawleys Island council member Sarah Zimmerman indicated that she had not heard from the mayor, and was unsure if this topic would be addressed at the next town council meeting, scheduled for Sept. 14. Fellow council member Ashley Carter confirmed that no special meeting or agenda item had been discussed at this point.

Per Zimmerman, the mayor makes the agenda for the meetings.

"I don't think these are reflective of the beliefs of those in Pawleys Island," Zimmerman told the Post and Courier. "The town has received numerous phone calls and emails about this."

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Reach Hannah Strong at 843-277-4687. Follow her on Twitter @HannahLStrong.

Hannah Strong covers growth in Horry and Georgetown counties. She is a native of Pawleys Island and graduate of Winthrop University. In her free time, she likes to read, surf and cook.

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