The Charlotte, North Carolina City Council unanimously passed a civil liberties resolution Monday prohibiting police from engaging in racial profiling or enforcing federal immigration laws. Charlotte is now the second city in North Carolina to pass a resolution based on the Bill of Rights Defense Committee’s model Local Civil Rights Restoration Act. It includes provisions requiring profiling complaints to be heard the Citizens Review Board, trains officers to deescalate situations, requires surveillance data to be purged, and restricts monitoring of protests.
“The SAFE Coalition is pleased with what the Charlotte City Council implemented from the BORDC Civil Rights Restoration Act model” Robert Dawkins, SAFE Coalition NC State Organizer, told Dissent NewsWire. “The work doesn’t end here, there is still room for more change but this is a great victory.” City Manager Ron Carlee has said the resolution will ensure that there are no “footnotes or asterisks” to the phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance “with liberty and justice for all,” according to the Charlotte Observer. Dozens of people showed up to support the Civil Rights Resolution, which was also supported by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department. Everyone who spoke at Monday’s City Council meeting supported the bill, although concerns were raised about the collection of data.
The Rev. Kojo Nantambu, the former president of the NAACP in Charlotte, said the resolution was a sign of what he said was a “more kinder, gentler City Council.” One speaker, Vicki Rowan, said the city needs to go farther and explain how it will compile and analyze data on possible profiling. That information needs to be compiled and released by officer, neighborhood and police division, Rowan said. “(Deputy Chief Kerr Putney) didn’t say what data would be collected,” Rowan said. Mayor Dan Clodfelter said the “unfinished work” about the resolution is how CMPD will analyze data. The resolution also states that CMPD won’t enforce federal immigration laws because it wants to have trust in the community. There are exceptions, however, if the police find a suspect is involved with terrorism or a criminal street gang. “For too long my immigrant friends have been subjected to profiling,” Alma Hernandez said at Monday’s council meeting. “The immigrant community is leery of the police. There is such a fear that many immigrants choose to remain silent rather than seek protection.” Hernandez works at the International House, which provides services to immigrants. The resolution also says the city will purge information harvested from surveillance equipment such as street video cameras, license plate readers and cellphone interceptors. It doesn’t place any limits on when the technology can be used. It also doesn’t define when police would delete such information. The council’s two Republicans, Ed Driggs and Kenny Smith, said they had concerns as to whether the resolution would hinder the ability of officers to work. But both said they had been assured by CMPD leadership that wouldn’t be the case. They voted for the resolution. Democrat Al Austin said he supported the resolution fully. “I’m happy, as a black man, that this is happening,” he said. Charlotte Observer