The North Charleston Branch of the NAACP, the ACLU of South Carolina, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), and other community organizations will host “Policing in North Charleston, SC: The Community’s Town Hall Meeting” on March 10, 6:30 p.m.- 8 p.m., at the Alfred Williams Community Life Center, located in North Charleston, SC.
The town hall meeting will enable North Charleston residents, particularly Black and Latino residents, to share testimony about their experiences of being victims of police excessive use-of-force or racially-biased policing by the North Charleston Police Department (NCPD). Attendees will also discuss and recommend strategies for improving policing practices.
Please find background information, details regarding the press conference and town hall meeting, and quotes from participating organizations’ leadership below.
Almost a year ago, the nation watched disturbing video footage of former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager shooting and killing Walter Scott, an African-American father, brother and son, during a routine traffic stop. Each year, thousands of police traffic stops have occurred in North Charleston that did not result in an arrest or citation; a disproportionate number of these stops was of African-American drivers.
In July 2015, LDF and over two dozen South Carolina leaders asked the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to open federal civil rights investigations of the NCPD to determine whether it has engaged in a pattern or practice of unlawful policing practices, and a criminal investigation into the shooting death of Walter Scott. According to news reports, federal prosecutors sent a “target letter” to the Charleston County Solicitor indicating an interest in filing federal criminal charges against Slager. DOJ has not, however, responded to the request for a pattern or practice investigation of the NCPD. As LDF and South Carolina leaders await a response from DOJ, they are conducting their own investigation of policing practices in North Charleston.
To read more about the letter LDF sent to the DOJ in July 2015 requesting an investigation of the NCPD, click here.
WHO: North Charleston Branch of the NAACP, ACLU of South Carolina, The Concerned Community Citizens Alliance, The Community Resource Center, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), and North Charleston residents
WHAT: “Policing in North Charleston, SC: The Community’s Town Hall”
WHEN: March 10, 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. EST
Alfred Williams Community Life Center
4441 Durant Avenue
North Charleston, SC
“Walter Scott’s death was tragic and an example of many incidents of police violence and misconduct. Dehumanizing and demoralizing racially-biased policing has a detrimental impact on countless African Americans in cities across the country, including North Charleston,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of LDF. “We urge the Department of Justice to use its full powers to determine how deep the problem of unlawful and biased policing runs in North Charleston, and to recommend and enforce necessary changes in police training, discipline, data collection and analysis, and supervision.”
“There is an excessive amount of complaints regarding tickets and unwarranted citations written by the North Charleston Police Department,” said Edward Bryant III, President of the North Charleston Branch of the NAACP. “The number of tickets and profiling of citizens is largely targeted toward African Americans and their communities. Statistical data previously revealed approximately every eight minutes a traffic stop was made in North Charleston, giving rise to the issue that a quota system is in place, with African Americans repeatedly at the top of the chain.”
“Despite claims that we have entered a post-racial era, racial profiling remains a troubling nationwide problem,” said Shaundra Young Scott, Executive Director of the ACLU of South Carolina. “This is evident from what happened to Mr. Walter Scott and countless other people of color who have been unapologetically killed by law enforcement. The ACLU believes that racial profiling violates basic human rights to fair treatment and freedom from discrimination. Our goal is that local law enforcement and the targeted communities can work together to improve policing techniques; lessen resentment from targeted communities towards local law enforcement; and, ultimately, eradicate racial profiling.”
“North Charleston police officers often use a minor traffic violation as a pretext to stop African-American drivers,” said Louis Smith, Executive Director of The Community Resource Center. “North Charleston police stopped my vehicle in 2013 on the day I purchased a brand new car claiming it had a broken tail light. When I explained that the car was brand new, the officer gave me a ticket for careless driving. The police department’s practice of making racially-biased traffic stops must end.”
“While North Charleston residents were able to breathe a sigh of relief when state, and possibly federal, criminal charges were brought against former officer Slager, they have made it clear to us that Walter Scott’s traffic stop and police use of excessive force is emblematic of a longstanding policing problem in this city,” said Monique Dixon, Deputy Director of Policy and Senior Counsel at LDF. “As we wait for the Department of Justice to respond to our request for a pattern or practice investigation of the NCPD, we must gather with the community to truly understand the gravity and scope of the policing problem in North Charleston.”
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.