Rally calls for better police practices & school based arrests

VIDEO: Rally calls for better police practices & school based arrests

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Almost 2,500 people filled Mount Moriah Baptist Church Monday night for the forth annual Nehemiah action rally.

Charleston Area Justice Ministry put on the event, calling for better police practices and proper school disciplinary action.

They called for less student arrests chanting, "Stop arresting, start restoring!"

They also addressed their concern for "pretext police stops."

Speakers said they feel officers makes racially motivated stops that "then allow the officer to investigate for potential more serious crime."

School board members were called to the stage and asked a series of questions, addressing hot topic issues.

The following questions were asked:

1. Will you vote "yes" at the School Board Meeting to fully fund and implement the recommendations proposed at the Strategic Education Committee by the Alternative Programs Director which include the five year incremental roll out plan of Restorative Practices?

2. Will you participate in a site visit to the Duvall County School District in Jacksonville, Florida by October 15, 2016 to observe Restorative Practices in elementary, middle and high school?

3. Will you ensure that the CCSD Code of Conduct is revised to reflect current best practices and that the progressive discipline plans be tailored for those school implementing Restorative Practices?

4. Will you meet with CAJM within the next 90 days to begin work on these initiatives?

5. Will you attend CAJM's Annual Assembly in the fall to report on your progress implementing these initiatives?

Law enforcement officials and city leaders were also called to the stage and asked a series of questions.

Those questions were:

1. Will you direct your Police Chief to participate in a Task Force with CAJM leaders and other stakeholders, to be appointed in collaboration between CAJM and the Mayor, to write and implement a plan with specific and measurable steps to reduce the number of investigatory stops, to be written and implemented by June 1, 2016.

2. Will you, by June 1, 2016, contract an external, independent police auditor from the OIR Group for a one-time audit of the Charleston/North Charleston Police Department around bias-based policing, specifically stops, questioning, frisks and searches, with the audit to begin by July 1, 2016.

3. Will you, by October 1, 2016, work with CAJM to create and champion a City Ordinance to establish an Independent Police Auditor's Office in Charleston/North Charleston, which fulfills all the best practice criteria provided to you last week?

4. Will you participate in a commission to CAJM leaders and other stakeholders to meet quarterly over the next year, and annually following that time, to monitor the following:

The creation and implementation of the Police Chief's plan to reduce the number of investigatory stops being conducted.

The results of the OIR Group's one-time audit and the resulting recommendations. The creation of the Charleston/North Charleston Independent Police Auditor's office (CIPA/NCIPA). The resulting CIPA/NCIPA recommendations and their implementation

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg did attend the rally.

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers declined the invitation and did not show up Monday night.

Some people came, calling for change in the school district and more in-school discipline, not arrests.

"They're arresting students for things and immediately that puts them in a position to go into what would be the jail system," former teacher Stephanie Rosen said.

Charleston Area Justice Ministry vice president Reverend Charles Heyward said the timing for the event is crucial and relevant as April marks one year since Walter Scott was shot and killed by former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager.

"It's been part of the motivation why so many people are involved," Rev. Heyward said. "If the community is not concerned about what has not yet happened from city hall and the police department, we'd be deceiving ourselves."

They called for transparency, accountability and trust from the school board, law enforcement and city leaders.

"If they're not willing to stand-up and to say we have a problem and they're not will to fix that problem, then the problem is bigger than we'll ever imagine," local activist Pastor Thomas Dixon said.

More than 30 congregations were represented. People of all races came together to work toward change.

"This is a movement," Pastor Dixon said. "It's not going to stop. It's going to get bigger and more people are being empowered with what's happening right now to participate."

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