The Summit neighborhood in Richland County has been in the local and national spotlight this week after a video of a white man confronting a young Black man prompted protests and the man’s arrest.
But residents interviewed by The State on Thursday say the video and the furor it caused doesn’t accurately portray one of northeast Richland County’s largest communities.
“It’s a very diverse neighborhood, a close neighborhood,” said Kim Neal, a retired Army captain who lives just two houses from Jonathan Pentland, 42, a Fort Jackson soldier identified by authorities as the aggressor in the video. “I pray that we can get back to some normalcy.”
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced Wednesday that Pentland had been charged with third-degree assault and battery in the April 12 incident.
Neighbors in the Barony Place section of the Summit said they never would’ve expected the racial tension or violence they saw in the video in their diverse and normally calm neighborhood.
Neal, who moved to the Summit in 2019 from Washington, D.C., said she chose the neighborhood for how quiet it was, how friendly everyone seemed and the diversity of neighbors. As a Black, female high-ranking Army official, Neal said she’d dealt with her fair share of racism and disrespect in the military.
“Because of everything else going on with the racial relations in the nation, period, it [the video] does touch your heart,” Neal said.
The video shows Pentland on the sidewalk in front of his house yelling at the unnamed youth and pushing him. Pentland tells the young man: “You’re in the wrong neighborhood, [expletive].”
The Summit encompasses several subdivisions and includes several demographics.
According to Columbia’s CMM Realty, the Summit neighborhood covers 12.4 square miles and has houses priced from $140,000 to $700,000. Houses can range from brick structures to vinyl-siding styles and anywhere between 1,350 to 4,300 square feet.
The president of the neighborhood homeowners association’s board of directors, Justin Martin, issued a statement on the Summit website condemning Pentland’s actions, which Martin said don’t represent the “multi-cultural and multi-racial community.”
“There is racism in every community in every city, state, county and country. We must always expose it and speak out against it wherever it rears its ugly head,” Martin said in the statement.
Martin asked people not to protest in the community in order to protect its citizens. Two sheriff’s deputies were guarding Pentland’s house at 2 p.m. Thursday after it was vandalized and the family was moved to another location Wednesday night, according to the sheriff’s department.
Sisters Lazayda and Sharina Rowells live in the Summit neighborhood and attended protests outside of Pentland’s house for most of the day Wednesday.
“It was the most unified protest I’ve ever been to,” said Lazayda, 16.
The Rowells sisters are leaders of the youth chapter of the Racial Justice Network S.C. Their mother, Shenee Ryan, is the state director of the Charleston-based organization.
The sisters said they’d attended many marches and protests, the biggest one being for George Floyd in downtown Columbia in May. But they never expected an event like this week’s assault to happen down the street from them. They estimated 200 to 400 people protested in their neighborhood Wednesday afternoon and evening.
“Here, the worst thing that happens is noise complaints,” Lazayda said about the Summit neighborhood.
Sharina, 14, said they picked up trash and litter from one person who vandalized property during the protests outside Pentland’s house.
“We were trying to keep it peaceful — we don’t need more Black people in jail.”