New Black Panther Party causes tensions to rise in Newberry County

The New Black Panther Party has planned a second rally and march in Newberry on Saturday afternoon.

NEWBERRY (WACH) -- This quiet community will soon have a loud reminder of June 2 -- the day an African American man was shot to death, his body then dragged for several miles, by a white man.

I don't think anybody thinks of each other as black or white, says Newberry resident Munson Summer. We just kind of think of ourselves as Newberrians, and so when you get people coming in and trying to separate us and make us afraid of each other that always raises tension.

Days after the crime, the New Black Panther Party demanded the death of 30-year-old Anthony Hill be labeled as a hate crime.

This office has no control over a hate crime, says Sheriff Lee Foster of Newberry County. Although we are assisting in that, I do not know what more we can do.

Federal authorities will decide whether or not to charge 19-year-old Gregory Collins with a hate crime.

Foster is frustrated and says involving the public along with the media in the on-going case against Collins is not helping authorities.

This matter is not becoming about the victim, which it should be, said Foster

But some people disagree. L. B. Williams believes the pressure of the New Black Panther Party is necessary.

"I think they did the right thing by coming now, because sometimes you wait too long and it gets swept away, said Williams.

Everyone we talked to Friday agrees on one thing, they wish this tragedy never took place.

The New Black Panther Party TMs rally and march will start at Wise Street Park at 3 p.m. Saturday.

WACH FOX did try to contact Newberry Mayor Ed Kyzer and Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin for a common the situation. Both men were out of the office Friday attending a municipal association meeting in Charleston.