MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Community leaders across the Grand Strand are continuing their mission of spreading messages on ending violence between police and citizens.
Bennie Swans is not only the chairman of the Horry County Democratic Party, but also a long-standing community activist. When it comes to the recent police shootings across the nation, he had only five words to say.
"We've got to value life," he said. "We've got to value life."
Swans believed everyone needs a reminder of what first responders do every single day, which is putting their lives on the line for everyone.
He described the shootings over the past month as devastating.
"Getting up and going to work, your wife expects you back home. She shouldn't get a call that your life has been lost in a fire fight or that you've been ambushed," Swans said. "In the history of the civil rights movement, the communities have always believed in peace. They've always believed that we don't poke each other in the eye to where we're all blind. We've got to learn to work together as brothers, or we'll perish as fools."
Swans is also a member of the Grand Strand Law Enforcement Appreciation Committee, a group that provides citizens a real opportunity to get to know the police officers in their own neighborhoods.
He said that does not mean getting to know them on the street corner where an arrest is made, but coming together and actively engaging in positive and constructive activity.
While he understands there are issues with society, Swans believed it is not about being black or white, or a Republican or Democrat. Instead, it's about being an American and realizing everything starts on the local level.
"All things are local," he said. "All politics is local. What we've got to do, on a local level, is build relationships, build equality, build diversity and build unity in our communities."
There is one more thing Swans has faith we can do.
"One of the things we can do is support police in the pursuit of justice and equality and proper policing in our neighborhoods," he said.
This past weekend, more than 700 people came together for a "Connecting Kids, Cops and Community" event in North Myrtle Beach. Swans said the law enforcement appreciation committee is planning another for the Myrtle Beach area.