Citizens vent about incidents with police during NAACP town hall

Citizens vent about incidents with police during NAACP town hall

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by CLEVE R. WOOTSON JR. / Charlotte Observer

WCNC.com

Posted on October 1, 2013 at 8:14 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 1 at 8:20 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Nearly 100 people showed up at a church north of uptown on Monday to tell NAACP organizers about bad experiences they’ve had with police officers – a town hall meeting sparked by the fatal shooting of an unarmed man in September.

The event at times was an airing of collective outrage at the shooting of Jonathon Ferrell, who was killed by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer on Sept. 14. But William Barber, the president of the state’s NAACP, said the meeting was also meant to highlight other cases where police have abused their power.

Barber said the organization was compiling data and anecdotes that it would ultimately present to the N.C. attorney general and other state leaders.

“We know that there are other instances where the police department has not treated people in the most humane manner,” Barber said. “Everybody, black or white, should be concerned about this. This is the loss of a human life at the hands of someone who is supposed to protect you.”

Several people at the event said they’d had bad interactions with officers.

Jibril Hough, local spokesman for the Bureau of Indigenous Muslim Affairs, said he felt he was profiled by the police department after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“We have a problem with police coming to work bringing their own baggage,” he told the people in attendance. “They come to work with these things, and they can’t allow that to interfere with their job. We need proper training – diversity training. We ain’t talking about Kumbaya. We’re talking about real diversity training.”

Constance Simmons said the police department has consistently harassed her sons.

“I’ve been in this community all my life,” she said. “The police will just pull up on the street and search my son and other boys when they’re not even doing anything.”

Monday’s town hall meeting came just days after Ferrell was buried in Florida after the police shooting. Police say Ferrell may have gone looking for help at a home in northeast Mecklenburg early on Sept. 14 after wrecking his car. The woman who answered the door thought he was a robber and called police.

Ferrell, who is black, was unarmed when he was shot and killed by Officer Randall Kerrick, who is white. Kerrick fired his service weapon 12 times, police have said, striking Ferrell 10 times.

Kerrick has been charged with voluntary manslaughter and suspended. Police said they consulted with prosecutors before filing the charge.

Kerrick’s attorneys say the shooting was justified. The NAACP and other groups have called for Kerrick to be charged with murder.

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