Social justice leaders outline concerns, demands in wake of weekend protests in Raleigh

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Leaders of social justice organizations outlined a series of demands in Raleigh Monday in response to the death of George Floyd. The capital city was coming off a weekend filled with peaceful protests followed by violence.

The groups led the peaceful rally that began Saturday a few hours before the violence broke out downtown.

“Our voices are tired, but we are going to keep shouting. Our eyes are tired, but we’re going to keep reading. We’re going to keep editing. We’re going to keep looking over these demands that we’re making. And then, we want our hands to get tired delivering these demands to people that have power,” said Greear Webb, at student at UNC-Chapel Hill and co-founder of Young Americans Protest.

Webb, along with five other community organizers, met on Sunday with Gov. Roy Cooper to talk about the concerns and outline steps they want him and other elected leaders to take.

“The governor, I believe, understood the gravity of the situation in terms of the racism and police brutality,” said Faisal Khan, founder of the Carolina Peace Center.

Among the steps they want to see taken: the formation of citizens’ review boards with subpoena power to allow for community oversight of police, require that officers intervene when an officer is overly abusive to a detainee, and more investment in community-led health and safety strategies. They also requested no additional police precincts be constructed in predominantly black neighborhoods. They said if these changes aren’t made, then Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown should resign or be removed from her position.

The Raleigh Police Department has not responded to a request for comment.

Earlier this year, the Raleigh City Council voted to allow the creation of a police advisory board that will review RPD procedures, make recommendations to policy development and “engage community members through education outreach on Raleigh Police Department directives.”

For such a board to have subpoena power would require an act of the General Assembly.

Deck-Brown and some RPD officers have raised concerns about such boards potentially interfering with police being able to do their jobs.

Monday’s press conference occurred in a portion of downtown Raleigh where the speakers were surrounded by buildings that had been boarded up following this weekend’s violence.

“If you want to talk about violence, let’s talk about the fruit that bore that violence,” said Dawn Blagrove, executive director of Emancipate NC.

On Monday, Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin implemented a curfew that takes effect at 8 p.m. and lasts until 5 a.m. It’s not clear for how many days the curfew will last.

Khan said, “I think the curfew is necessary at this point. I personally condemn all forms of violence and vandalism.”

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