NORTH CHARLESTON (WCSC) - Editor's Note: As of April 19, the national committee of Black Lives Matter issued a statement stating they do not know Jay Johnson and denying Johnson is now or has ever been part of their organization. The committee statement also reiterates its support for the demands of the local Charleston chapter. We have posted the raw footage of Johnson's interview, at the beginning of which he states is with the Black Lives Matter national movement. We have also posted the statement in its entirety from the Black Lives Matter executive committee.
The organization that has headed the demonstrations against Walter Scott's death, Black Lives Matter, has a new list of demands for the city of North Charleston. That list includes the immediate removal of the North Charleston Police Chief and also the reallocation of at least half of the department's funds to community based programs. Monday night, national members from Black Lives Matter said the local chapter needs more guidance.
"You got to know when to pull back," said Jay Johnson with Black Lives Matter.
Johnson is a national organizer with Black Lives Matter. The organization started as a hash tag on twitter as #blacklivesmatter, after the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman incident in 2012. The local chapter in Charleston has had a loud voice in the Walter Scott demonstrations. National members want to help guide local members here in Charleston.
"To come down and let them know you they're responding out of emotion. Let us show you how to channel that energy constructively," said Johnson.
Johnson doesn't agree with some of the local groups demands. He believes the group needs direction. He's concerned that some of their requests are unrealistic and unreasonable, such as asking for a citizens review board with subpoena powers. That would mean the group could demand someone to testify, or produce documents. If not, they could go to jail.
"That power doesn't exist anywhere in the United States in any organization," said Johnson.
Meanwhile, local members are pleased to meet with national members to gather more insight on how to operate.
"Anybody who would like to assist in this work is free to help us," said Muhiyidin D'Baha, a member with the Charleston Chapter of Black Lives Matter.
Another group that come to speak today was Black Lawyers for Justice.
"Mr. Barack Obama, things are different. They are getting worse," said Malik Z. Shabazz, with Black Lawyers for Justice.
Organizers are advocating for a national special prosecutor that deals with police misconduct cases. They also say everyone should wear body cameras, not just police and that protests should continue in the Lowcountry.
"It may be a crime to block a highway, it may be a crime to disturb a restaurant, it may be a crime to do those things that shake's peoples comfort. It's time to shake it," said Shabazz.
Black Lawyers for Justice plan to have a town hall meeting on Sunday to discuss a possible investigation into the North Charleston Police Department. Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter plans to meet with the mayor this week.