Charleston NAACP President Calls For Police Department Reforms

Apr 9, 2015
Originally published on April 9, 2015 10:16 pm
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Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

In South Carolina, video has been released from the dashboard camera of the officer who fatally shot a black man who ran from him. The incident began with a routine traffic stop last Saturday. The dashcam video of the scene is uneventful until the driver, Walter Scott, jumps out of his car and runs out of view of the camera. And in the community of North Charleston, protests and vigils continued today. Georgia Public Broadcasting's Sarah McCammon reports.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: At the corner of two streets ligned with weathered Victorian homes and palm trees, Charleston NAACP President Dot Scott stood with black leaders today at a news conference.

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DOT SCOTT: We gather today as members and friends of the Charleston NAACP in the wake of yet another police shooting.

MCCAMMON: Scott began her remarks with a litany of thanks for members of the justice system who were involved in charging officer Michael Slager with murder.

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SCOTT: The Federal Bureau of Investigation and others in the law enforcement community who took swift action...

MCCAMMON: She quickly pivoted to calling for reforms of the system. Dot Scott is no relation to Walter Scott, the 50-year-old former Coast Guard member who was shot to death during what began as a traffic stop last weekend. Black leaders say that stop was part of a larger problem of racial profiling in the predominantly African-American city. NAACP Vice President Joe Darby says police target African-American neighborhoods for enforcement of minor offenses like broken taillights.

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JOE DARBY: If it's not racial profiling, then that means that that's a serious problem only in parts of North Charleston that are predominantly minority.

SCOTT: And I also want to say, visually, if you see 10 stops, 9 of them will be African-American males.

MCCAMMON: The NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus are calling for body cameras on every officer. Scott is urging residents to record every interaction between police and the public. Watching the news conference across the street was James Bell, an African-American man in his 50s.

JAMES BELL: I'm a landlord so I have property in North Charleston here, so I'm back and forth. And knowing the police brutality that North Charleston carry - it's very scary to even go in North Charleston.

MCCAMMON: North Charleston's mayor says the city has struggled to recruit minorities to the majority-white police department. He told reporters this week the city may review past complaints against Officer Slager, including an exoneration in 2013 for an allegation that he used excessive force against a black man. For NPR News, I'm Sarah McCammon in North Charleston, S.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.