Groups in Florence unite after heated debate over “MLK Day Freedom March”

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – The battle over who will lead the Martin Luther King Junior Day Freedom March came to an end during a city council meeting Monday afternoon.

“I was so surprised at the controversy going on with a march, it shouldn’t be this way,” said Linda Becote.

Becote stood up and walked out of the Florence City Council meeting after hearing arguments between who will lead the MLK March in January.

“I am very hurt and disappointed at what I have witnessed today, it really hurt me,” said Linda Becote.

The MLK Day Freedom March was led by late City Councilman Ed Robinson for 17 years before his death in March.

Organizers of the march say a group supported by City Councilwoman Pat Gibson Hye Moore wanted to create their own march.

On Monday, the two groups brought their concerns to city council.

Community activist Tim Waters is behind the second march supported by four city council members.

Waters requested a permit for the MLK day march and a tax accommodation to fund it. His idea is to include four different routes in the march across the city.

“I have no intention of running for any office the only thing I wanted to do is unite the city of Florence,” explained Waters.

As members of each group voiced their concerns among city leaders, one-by-one four council members who were asked to support Waters march, declined to do so.

City Councilwoman Teresa Irvin says she’s choosing not to support the march because she doesn’t want any misunderstanding amongst neighbors.

“I was asked as an elected official to lead a rally but just so there won’t be any confusion I’m going to recuse myself,” Councilwoman Irvin mentioned.

“I decided that I was not going to participate this year. If it couldn’t be for the right reason then I couldn’t participate in it because I’m marching for Martin Luther King and for what he has died and done for us,” Bectoe said.

Waters says he admits he could have done things differently.

“I admit that a lot of this was my fault, a lot of the misconception was on me and I take full responsibility for it and at this time right now I just hope the healing process start and we move together and have a great, great march,” said Waters.

The march on January 16 will be called the MLK March in remembrance of Florence City Councilman Ed Robinson.

The march will begin at Shekinah Glory Seventh Day Adventist Church on Oakland Avenue and end with a program at the Poynor Adult Education facility.

The march will be held from 10am-1pm.

The event is free to the public.