Mount Moriah Baptist church was standing room only on a Monday as more than 2,300 crowded into the worship for the fourth annual Nehemiah Action Assembly.
Charleston Area Justice Ministry organized the event, calling for more fair police practices and careful school discipline. CAJM is made up of more than 30 interfaith congregations.
“It’s the only forum I know in Charleston where we’ve been able to achieve a vehicle of all faiths,” said Rabbi Stephanie Alexander of Kahal Kodosh Beth Elohim.
The annual rally has grown dramatically since it’s first four years ago. “Today it’s 2,000 when they see us again it’s going to be 5,000 and we’re going to continue until we show up in real numbers,” said Pastor Thomas Dixon.
Speakers shared stories and statistics on “pretext police stops” and how they believe officers turn racially motivated stops into chances to investigate something even when it is not suspicious enough to do so.
Shaniece Williams of James Island was driving through North Charleston 3 years ago when she was pulled over for a “dim tag light.” She says her plates were properly illuminated and that the officer wanted her to step out of her car on a busy road because license did not match the registration. Her mother owned the car and explained that to the officer at the time.
Williams shared her story in front of the crowd because she wants city leaders to listen because she feels others have similar accounts. “It deeply affected me and if it affected me this way it’s affecting thousands maybe millions of other people,” said Williams.