Two groups are coming together Thursday to write letters to Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter showing their support following a May incident involving Rep. Jerry Govan.

The Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network and South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault are hosting the letter-writing event.

“We hope to really emphasize that we support civil dialogue. We’re just trying to keep this positive,” said Eme Crawford, director of Communications and Learning for WREN.

She said civility is crucial to the progress of South Carolina.

In a letter, Crawford said, “We cannot accept a culture where a woman who speaks up is treated this way.”

On May 11, the last day of the General Assembly’s legislative session, Cobb-Hunter and Govan got into a heated dispute regarding a bill designed to consolidate Orangeburg County’s school districts.

The argument between the Orangeburg Democrats ended with Cobb-Hunter wearing ice packs on her wrists for two days.

Cobb-Hunter has said Govan was “literally twisting my arms and my wrist and pushing me.”

Govan has said he didn't initiate the physical contact, but has not given specifics.

House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, later released a letter to the lawmakers saying neither would be punished for the confrontation. He told them to keep future engagements civil and professional.

Cobb-Hunter was not pleased that Lucas seemed to have assigned equal blame and has since retained a lawyer to investigate the confrontation.

Govan said Tuesday, “God knows my heart, and knows my mind, and knows what happened.”

“The speaker’s ruled on the matter and everybody else has moved on,” he added. “I don’t see any good in continuing to try and stir this stuff up.”

Govan said he would live by his faith and take the high ground.

“Before folks judge, they should take pause and deal with the facts,” he said. “I think that’s essential in particular of terms of people who know me and know my character. I would ask people to extend that kind of respect.”

“My hope is that we can move forward and work together in terms of addressing the real issues and concerns,” he added.

Cobb-Hunter could not be reached for comment.

The letter-writing event will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Spotted Salamander at 1531 Richland St. in Columbia.

WREN focuses on getting more women involved in politics.

Crawford said Cobb-Hunter “has long been a voice for women at the statehouse.”

Contact the writer: jmack@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5516.

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