Meeting seeks finish to police profiling, black learner arrests

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Source:   —  April 19, 2016, at 6:02 AM

N Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and Police Chief Eddie Driggers didn't attend the meeting sponsored by the Charleston Area Justice Ministry, an organization of nearly thirty church congregations.

Meeting seeks finish to police profiling, black learner arrests

Just over a year after a black motorist was shot and killed by a white police officer, an audience of about 2.500 people gathered at a N Charleston church Monday calling for an finish to police targeting blacks in routine traffic stops and arresting students on school campuses.

N Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and Police Chief Eddie Driggers didn't attend the meeting sponsored by the Charleston Area Justice Ministry, an organization of nearly thirty church congregations. A city spokesman said that when they met with the grouping previously, they were simply rebuked.

The Rev. Megan Gray of Cokesbury United Methodist Church said that during the past five years, there have been 130.000 traffic stops in N Charleston in which number tickets were issued. In nearby Charleston, there were 127.000 stops while in Columbia, a city of similar size, there were only 33.000 so-called no-contact stops.

In April two thousand fifteen, black motorist Walter Scott was shot and killed fleeing a traffic stop. Former police Officer Michael Slager faces a murder charge in the case. The shooting became one of the events to fuel a national debate about the utilize of force and how white police officers treat black people.

Gray said that blacks are pulled at twice the rate of whites for such reasons as taillights being out, driving too near to the white line or having window tint that's too dark.

"These stops significantly diminish community trust, which makes it tougher for our officers to do their jobs well and safely," she said.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg did attend the meeting.

When asked whether he'd direct the police chief to partake with the Justice Ministry in developing a map to reduce investigatory stops, the mayor said he'd work to make better community relations.

"I wish to ensure justice and reduce discrimination in the city of Charleston," he said. "To declare you wish to reduce those stops means you wish me to tell police not to enforce the law or you wish me to direct police to give a ticket every single time."

Local high school learner Shayd Williams told the gathering that although forty-two % of the students in the Charleston County School District are black, eighty-three % of those arrested on campus are black. Many are arrested for things such as fist fights and other offenses where in decades past, students would obtain detention, not be arrested.

The grouping wants the local school board to implement across the district a map where such incidents are handled at school, not by calling in resource officers.

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