14 June 2010
Contact: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, State President, 919-394-8137
Mrs. Amina J. Turner, State Executive Director, 919-682-4700
Mr. Al McSurely, State Communications Chair, 919-682-4700
Mr. Calvin Henderson, President, Pitt County NAACP, 252-758-7645
NAACP TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARING ON POLICE MISCONDUCT,
RACIAL PROFILING IN GREENVILLE
For more than 100 years, the NAACP has advocated for the elimination of racial discrimination in all aspects of life and has been in the forefront of fighting for equal opportunity and justice to the benefit of all Americans. Our mission statement reads:
The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.
At the beginning of our existence, abuse of power, false arrests and racial profiling were core issues that we addressed then and still address now. Our goal in the criminal justice arena is to eliminate disparate treatment of African-Americans and other minorities in all aspects of law enforcement and criminal justice systems. As a civil rights, community-based organization, we are mandated to stay informed of issues that occur in the community, and to investigate and educate the public regarding disparate treatment of minorities.
Throughout the nation, continuing realities and allegations of police misconduct and racial profiling exist; therefore, North Carolina NAACP demands that there are investigations of all incidents and allegations to ensure that everyone feels safe, respected and that law enforcement officers maintain order. Public trust is the only way to ensure public safety. Anything less undermines public safety.
According to a report released last summer by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and The Rights Working Group, “racial and ethnic profiling by members of law enforcement at federal, state and local levels is one of today’s most significant challenges to equality. While the U.S. Constitution prohibits racial profiling, and the international community has defined racial profiling as a violation of human rights, profiling continues to impact millions of people in African-American, Asian, Latino, South Asian, Arab and Muslim communities. All over the country, racial and ethnic minorities very often are investigated, stopped, frisked or searched based exclusively upon who they are, what they look like or what faith they practice, without any identifiable evidence of illegal activity.”
NAACP believes in law enforcement that can be trusted, transparent and that collects statistics on all departmental functions in relationship to ALL citizens regardless of their race, income, gender or religion. On these matters, every unit of the NAACP is called to be vigilant whether there is a high-profile case or not. In a recent article entitled Ending Racial Profiling Now we are reminded that “Just as history has shown using race as a proxy for criminality is bad policy, history also shows that focusing on behavior over race is smart policy. When law enforcement officers eliminate race as a factor and instead rely on behavior, they catch more people who break the law. Racial profiling is a violation of our constitutional and human rights, and it distracts the attention of law enforcement from real suspects, which puts all of us at risk.” But police misconduct and racial profiling— abuse of power in the criminal justice system continue to erode trust between communities of color and law enforcement.
North Carolina state law prohibits racial or ethnic profiling by all law enforcement agencies. And NAACP continues to work with key stakeholders—including law and policymakers, the faith community, civic organizations and others to develop approaches that assure fair and just administration and enforcement of the law. When we receive allegations that raise community concerns or when through our own research we believe there is discrimination or police misconduct presented to NAACP, the NAACP is obligated to investigate and to look for systemic solutions, and not just respond to individual cases.
Regarding the incident involving Ms. Kandie Smith, the Greenville City Councilwoman, and more importantly a citizen, her case is a matter of public record and the details reported raised public concerns in many quarters that were shared with the NAACP. The nature of her own public allegations of police misconduct and false arrest should concern all of us and demand a thorough investigation. This is why we supported the call for an immediate SBI investigation.
We commend and are in agreement with her when she states that it does not matter to whom the incident that she experienced happens, referencing the fact that her being an elected official is of no consequence, but, if she informed the officer that she was a city council member, and was still falsely arrested and a victim of police misconduct, it does raise the larger issue of what would have happened if this was just another citizen, and what kind of patterns of arrest already exist in the Greenville community.
As of this writing, Ms. Smith has not recanted her statement that the police officer was wrong in his response, and that the reporting of the incident by the officer was also wrong. It is NAACP’s job to investigate patterns and practices of arrests, police misconduct and allegations of racial profiling.
Following Tuesday’s press conference, the leadership of the local and state NAACP met with the mayor, city manager, and other community leaders. We requested the police reports, discussed public trust, talked about the need to review disaggregated data regarding police arrests in particular sections of the city; and the call for a community hearing where citizens’ concerns could be heard. Finally, we met with Councilwoman Kandie Smith at the NAACP office to hear the details of her case, to ascertain whether she had been contacted by the SBI and advised her to get legal counsel to develop her own personal strategies for challenging what she said were false charges and wrongful arrest, and recommended that she and her attorney develop strategies to defend and save her reputation.
Ms. Smith’s statement is accurate when she states that we do not speak for her. That is the role of her legal counsel. We speak as the NAACP and it is our mandate to investigate whether there are patterns of police misconduct in the community. And, whether these are wrongful acts or acts rooted in racial motivations.
Proceeding from this point, at the request of the local branch, the NC State Conference will coordinate the following:
- We support the call for a full investigation through the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI).
- We will schedule a meeting with the Mayor, the City Manager and the Police Chief to discuss various concerns and issues addressing and investigating patterns of racial profiling.
- We will hold a forum with the UNC Center for Civil Rights and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice on Monday, June 28 at 7:00pm where citizens can present their concerns to a hearing panel in an effort to generate a written report and to begin to pull statistical arrest records from the Greenville City Police Department.
- We intend to a conduct comparative analysis of the sample data received.
- If there is a police-community review board, we want to know what is its authority, and current activity. If there is not, we want to suggest why there should be one and what it should be doing to build trust and to monitor relations between African-Americans and other communities of color and local law enforcement in Greenville.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors. For more information, call the State Office at 866-626-2227 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. ###
 The Persistence of Racial and Ethnic Profiling in the United States , American Civil Liberties Union and the Rights Working Group, August 2009
 Ending Racial Profiling Now, by Benjamin Todd Jealous and Margaret Huang, The Baltimore Sun, December 7, 2009
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President
Mrs. Amina Josey Turner, Exec Dir
P O Box 335
Durham, NC 27702
919-682-4700 V 919-682-4711 F
Amina Josey Turner
P O Box 335
Durham, NC 27702
919-682-4700 V 919-682-4711 F