Racial Justice Tag - ACLU of North Carolina http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/Latest.html Mon, 22 May 2017 13:16:55 -0400 en-gb ACLU of North Carolina Urges Free and Fair Election http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/aclu-of-north-carolina-urges-free-and-fair-election.html http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/aclu-of-north-carolina-urges-free-and-fair-election.html

RALEIGH – Ahead of tomorrow’s election, the ACLU of North Carolina is calling on officials across the state to ensure that all eligible voters are able to cast a ballot without facing illegal or unnecessary barriers.

“We call on all officials to respect the law and protect the right to vote for all eligible voters, and we condemn any efforts to suppress the vote,” said Karen Anderson, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. “We stand ready with many partners across the state to protect North Carolinians’ right to vote on Election Day and fight any barriers to the ballot.”

Voters who have questions or any issues with casting their ballot are encouraged to contact the ACLU of North Carolina or call 1-888-OUR-VOTE.

In July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit struck down North Carolina’s voter suppression law, finding that the law targeted African American voters with “almost surgical precision.” The sweeping ruling blocked voter ID and restored a week of early voting, same-day registration, preregistration, and out-of-precinct provisional voting.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Coalition for Social Justice and other groups challenged the 2013 law that discriminated against African-American voters and unduly burdened the right to vote, in violation of the U.S Constitution’s 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act.

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mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Voting Rights Mon, 07 Nov 2016 11:23:27 -0500
ACLU: Charlotte Police Must Release All Footage of Keith Lamont Scott Shooting; Disclosed Videos Raise Many Questions http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/aclu-charlotte-police-must-release-all-footage-of-keith-lamont-scott-shooting-disclosed-videos-raise-many-questions.html http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/aclu-charlotte-police-must-release-all-footage-of-keith-lamont-scott-shooting-disclosed-videos-raise-many-questions.html

CHARLOTTE – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina joins those calling on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) to publicly release all body and dash camera footage, as well as audio dispatch recordings, of the events surrounding the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old man with a traumatic brain injury, who, according to the Guardian’s database The Counted, was the 194th Black person killed by U.S. police this year. 

On Saturday, the department released portions of body and dash camera footage showing the moments immediately before and after police shot and killed Mr. Scott. But the department has not released all the video footage of the moments leading up to and following the encounter, leaving many questions still unanswered.

Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina, released the following statement:

“The videos released this weekend raise a host of questions about why police shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott, and whether, in doing so, the officers involved violated state or federal law, in addition to failing to follow the department’s own rules regarding the use of deadly force, de-escalation, when to wear and activate body cameras, and more.

“In the interest of full transparency, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police must stop releasing information to the public on a piecemeal basis and disclose all remaining body and dash camera footage, as well as audio of dispatch recordings, of the moments before and after Mr. Scott was killed. The public and Mr. Scott’s family deserve to see and hear all available information about whether something was in his hand and why a man who was suspected of no crime, other than the newly disclosed accusation that he possessed a minor amount of marijuana, is now dead.”

On the use of force:

“Although we don’t yet have statistics on the number of people with disabilities killed by U.S. police, Mr. Scott certainly was not the first. The videos we have seen so far of his last moments raise serious questions about why officers were so quick to use deadly force rather than any number of other tactics that could have de-escalated their encounter with a man who lived with a mental disability. In several videos, Mr. Scott’s wife can be heard telling officers that Mr. Scott has a ‘T.B.I.’ (traumatic brain injury) and had just taken his medicine.

“In 2015, the Charlotte City Council unanimously passed a civil liberties resolution that included directives for how officers should interact with members of the public, including those with disabilities, and how to de-escalate potentially violent situations. The available information suggests that the officers who encountered Mr. Scott did not abide by those directives, and calls into question whether the Charlotte Police Department has adequately trained any of its officers to respond effectively to such situations.”                                   

On officer use of body cameras:

“We also have questions about why the officer who killed Mr. Scott was not wearing a body camera, as CMPD’s own policy states that ‘recordings shall occur prior to or in anticipation of an arrest’ and also apply to ‘suspicious vehicles or persons.’ 

“Missing audio at the beginning of the video from the officer who was wearing a body camera indicates that the officer in question did not turn on his camera when the department’s policy required him to do so. Because officers were engaging a person who they claimed was suspicious, and reportedly even left the scene temporarily to outfit themselves with additional gear, body cameras should have been turned on earlier so there would be full audio and visual accounts of what happened.

“Last year, Chief Putney announced plans to phase out dash cameras, citing their cost and the implementation of officer worn body cameras. The fact that a dash camera – and not a body camera – seems to have captured the clearest vantage of Mr. Scott’s shooting shows that dash cameras remain vitally important and the department must retain them.

“CMPD must release whatever audio and video footage remains of the shooting of Mr. Scott now. The department must not simply run out the clock on the new law that will block the public from seeing body camera footage without a court order. CMPD should do the right thing and release all the footage.”

Background

As of October 1, a new North Carolina law, HB 972, will prevent law enforcement agencies from releasing body camera footage in the public interest without a court order. Under the law, which the ACLU has opposed, people captured on video by body cameras would also be barred from having a copy of the footage unless they successfully obtained a court order.   

 

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mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Legal News Mon, 26 Sep 2016 11:43:40 -0400
ACLU Calls on Charlotte Police to Release Video Footage of Keith Lamont Scott Shooting http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/aclu-calls-on-charlotte-police-to-release-video-footage-of-keith-lamont-scott-shooting.html http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/aclu-calls-on-charlotte-police-to-release-video-footage-of-keith-lamont-scott-shooting.html

CHARLOTTE – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina today called on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to release any body or dash cam footage that captured yesterday’s police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, the 194th Black person killed by U.S. police this year. Police say Mr. Scott was shot and killed while officers were trying to execute an arrest warrant for a different person.

A new North Carolina law, HB 972, will prevent law enforcement agencies from releasing body camera footage in the public interest without a court order, but the law does not take effect until October 1. All Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers are supposed to be equipped with body cameras while on patrol and the cameras should be in use any time an arrest is made, according to department policy.  

Karen Anderson, Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina, released the following statement:

“We join the people in Charlotte and across the nation in sending our deepest condolences to Mr. Scott’s family. We demand a full investigation into why yet another Black person in the United States has died at the hands of a police officer. The public and Mr. Scott’s family deserve answers, and we urge the State Bureau of Investigation and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation.

“In the interest of transparency and accountability, and particularly in light of conflicting accounts about the shooting, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department should quickly release any and all footage it has of the events leading up to the shooting, as well as the shooting itself. The department should also explain why the officer who shot Mr. Scott was not wearing a body camera.

“HB972, the disgraceful law passed by the North Carolina General Assembly and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory that prevents law enforcement agencies from releasing body camera footage without a court order, does not take effect until October 1. As we've seen elsewhere, video footage of police shootings can provide crucial evidence of what took place – especially when there are conflicting accounts from police and community members. Charlotte should set an example for North Carolina by releasing footage of the shooting promptly before the obstacles imposed by the new state law take effect.

“What we already know is that far too many people of color are victims of wrongful targeting and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers across the country, and last night we were once again harshly reminded that North Carolina is not immune to that reality."

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mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Racial Justice Wed, 21 Sep 2016 11:06:53 -0400
Voting Rights Groups: Guilford Proposal to Cut Early Voting Violates Law http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/voting-rights-groups-guilford-proposal-to-cut-early-voting-violates-law.html http://thatwww.acluofnc.org/blog/voting-rights-groups-guilford-proposal-to-cut-early-voting-violates-law.html

RALEIGH – Voting rights advocates are urging county boards of election and ultimately the North Carolina State Board of Elections to maintain or expand early voting opportunities when compared to 2012 as they develop their early voting plans for the November 2016 election. On Monday at 1 p.m., the Guilford County Board of Elections will consider a proposal that would eliminate early voting on Sundays and reduce early voting sites from 22 to 12, which would include the closure of several voting sites used predominantly by Black and young voters.

Less than two weeks ago, a federal appeals court ruled that North Carolina’s restrictive 2013 voting law, which had eliminated a week of early voting and other methods used disproportionately by African American voters, violated the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act because it intentionally discriminated against voters of color.

In a letter sent Friday, attorneys for groups who successfully challenged North Carolina’s voting restrictions in court said the Guilford County proposal appears to represent "intentional action” to suppress votes this November.

“We believe the action being considered by the Guilford County Board of Elections, and potentially others, violates the law,” the letter reads. “The Guilford Board’s drastic reduction in early voting opportunities can only be interpreted as intentional action taken to suppress voting this November, particularly among young voters and voters of color.

More than half of all North Carolina voters will likely use early voting this November, according to the state Board of Elections. In 2012, 70% of African American voters in North Carolina used early voting. The 2013 law reduced the number of early voting days in North Carolina from 17 to 10.

In Friday’s letter, the groups say that if adopted, the Guilford County proposal could result in further legal liability under the Voting Rights Act and United States Constitution.

Read the letter here.

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mmeno [AT] acluofnc [DOT] org (Mike Meno) Voting Rights Mon, 08 Aug 2016 09:25:33 -0400