Local News

Raleigh protest organizers list goals, distance their groups from violence, vandalism

Posted June 1, 2020 1:26 p.m. EDT
Updated June 1, 2020 10:03 p.m. EDT

— A group of social justice activists, representing various organizations that joined in protests over the weekend in downtown Raleigh, listed their goals for the gatherings Monday and denounced the violence that accompanied the protests.

Conrad James, leader of Living Ultra-Violet, said the violence and unrest over the weekend stole the spotlight from what the group seeks a peaceful end to what he sees as police brutality.

He distinguished his goals from those who looted stores and broke windows. "Our protest was from 4:30 until 8:30 that was really peaceful, and everything was great." James said those who came later were not part of the original protest.

James said his group planned to gather again on Monday but would honor a curfew established by Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin.

Faisal Khan, the organizer of Saturday’s protest and founder of Carolina Peace Center, said he does not condone what downtown Raleigh has endured, but Greear Webb, head of Young Americans Protest, had a different answer.

"Violence is not part of the peaceful protests, but it is part of the movement," he said. "There may be necessary incidents that help drive the mission forward."

Webb and James were among the organizers who outlined what they hope to accomplish with the protests in a press conference Monday afternoon. Among their demands: The ouster of Raleigh Chief of Police Cassandra Deck-Brown.

It is time for her to go," said Kerwin Pittman, founder of Recidivism Reduction Educational Programs Services, speaking on behalf of the assembled groups.

"No longer will we sit idly by while the citizens are brutalized. No longer will we remain silent while she remains silent to the injustice."

"To always stand on the side of your officers even when they do wrong is purely unacceptable," he said.

Pittman was joined by representatives of Emancipate NC, Young Americans Protest, Living Ultra-Violet, Carolina Peace Center and Raleigh Demands Justice.

"We are no longer asking for the end of overpolicing in the black and brown communities," added Zainab Baloch, of Young Americans Protest, "We are demanding." She asked for investment in community-led health and safety in those communities rather than the addition of more police stations.

The speakers' other demands are for North Carolina to allow for police oversight boards across the state to have subpoena power and for state leaders to put pressure on their counterparts at the local level to require that police officers who observe violations of civil rights step in to stop it or face termination.

In a sermon Sunday, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II addressed the death of George Floyd in police custody and the protests that followed.

"Protestors are right to decry such brutal and inhumane treatment as racism. Thank God people are in the streets, refusing to accept what has been seen as normal for far too long," he said. ... "In fact injustice, period, is causing many to question whether this nation’s commitment to the establishment of justice means anything at all."

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