NORTH CHARLESTON, SC – Thursday evening, the North Charleston NAACP hosted a town hall event and encouraged African-American and Latino community members to share stories of excessive force and racial profiling by the North Charleston Police Department.
The majority of the people who shared stories were black.
Several middle and high school students, and their parents, said they feel they were racially profiled in Charleston County School District classrooms.
A young female student said she is in 9th grade at R.B. Stall High School and shared a story involving the school resource officers using alleged excessive force. She says she was tackled and written up by school resource officers after an altercation that stemmed from being late to class. The student did admit she cursed and “flipped-off” an officer during the heated exchange.
“SROs came and they started pushing me around and yelling at me and I didn’t appreciate that. Eventually they got frustrated and threw me on the ground and one of them got on top of me.”
News 2 reporters asked, “Do you think it was a necessary for them to use that kind of force or do you think you asked for it?” The student responded by saying, “No, because I didn’t touch them or nothing. I was yelling, but it didn’t have to result in them throwing me to the ground and arresting me.”
Another 8th grader said he was arrested and charged with assault after an incident involving a pencil sharpener back in 5th grade got out of control. The Williams family members spoke in front of a large crowd in North Charleston and say the boy is on the “school to prison pipeline” because of the charges he faced as a young student.
The Executive Director of the South Carolina American Civil Liberties Union, Shaundra Scott, says minorities on the street and minority students in the classroom are facing the same problems. Scott told News 2, “It’s the school to prison pipeline and it’s just we’re seeing it in the communities and we’re seeing it in the schools and we want to help our youth to be in a better position once they get older.”
Many members of the community told civil rights organizers from the NAACP, the National Action Network, and the ACLU, something needs to change within the North Charleston Police Department.
Carlton Mayers, Policing Reform Policy Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund said, “From what we are hearing from residents of all backgrounds Latino, white, African-American; not much has changed at all.” Mayers said after the shooting death of Walter Scott in April of 2015, there seemed to be some minor changes within the community and how police interacted with citizens; but Mayers says there have been few real reforms.
News 2 asked organizers from the North Charleston NAACP if they invited North Charleston Police to the event Thursday night. We asked, “Why not have the officers here and confront the problem head on?” Officials from the North Charleston NAACP said this town hall event was about hearing the people’s stories. They said police were welcome to attend because it was an open event.
However, no North Charleston police officers were present Thursday evening.
One man from the crowd urged everyone in attendance to fill our tort-reform papers at the North Charleston City Hall to bring about real change within the police department.
During the next six months, members of the North Charleston NAACP say they will present these cases to the U.S. Department of Justice. Civil rights organizers say they want these incidents investigated.