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04/27/2018 | Combating Discriminatory Policing

Action NC Driving Powerful Police Accountability Campaigns in Charlotte

In the wake of the murder by police of Keith Lamont Scott and the Charlotte Uprising, CPD affiliate Action NC is driving several powerful police accountability campaigns in Charlotte, North Carolina. Keith Scott’s death brutally illuminated the weaknesses of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s (CMPD) existing accountability measures. While CMPD issued body cameras to some of their officers before the shooting, police routinely turned their cameras off or simply did not wear them. Footage of police shootings was only released after investigations in misconduct cases.

This loose patchwork system of police accountability failed the residents of Charlotte. Action NC organized to win comprehensive reforms to protect the civil rights and lives of their members, including mandatory body cameras for the CMPD’s SWAT and Tactical teams. The most heavily militarized teams of the CMPD must now face transparency and accountability for their actions. Off-duty officers who are working for private security must also wear body cameras, ensuring that private security cannot abuse their authority as police officers. Rather than leave the decision to turn off their cameras in the moments when they are most needed, Action NC won that officer’s cameras would automatically turn on when either their taser or gun is removed from their holster. Body cameras must now be active during all encounters between civilians and police—and police must get recorded, verbal permission for their searches to be legal. Without explicit permission, their searches are overwhelmingly inadmissible in court. Action NC won the release of police shooting videos to the public before internal investigations concluded, setting a state-wide precedent for badly-needed transparency. Strengthening Charlotte’s Citizen Review Board so that the Board can issue subpoenas is the critical next step toward an accountable, respectful CMPD.

Beyond the CMPD, Action NC has won commitments from the interim District Attorney to stop requiring cash bail for Class 3 misdemeanors and below. This eliminates the requirement of cash bail for most marijuana possession offenses—a major source of racial disparities in our criminal justice system. The interim DA has ceased requiring fines or fees to be paid down below one thousand dollars before persons facing conviction can instead be placed into deferred prosecution programs.

Action NC’s members have fought tirelessly against the New Jim Crow in the shadow of the old. Winning just, respectful policing across North Carolina is a critical keystone to building broad political power for Black and Latinx Southerners and communities of color across the nation. Please support our work across North Carolina to win just policing.