Wednesday, September 3, 2014

CMPD confronts Moral Monday activist over leaflets

A video of a confrontation between Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and an activist at the Moral Monday march in the Queen City this week is raising eyebrows about police actions. The activist was reportedly leaving leaflets on cars about voting rights when police placed him in handcuffs after they asked for his identification and tried to take his cell phone.

Ty Turner, a gay activist who also ran for the N.C. Senate this year, gave this account to  ThinkProgress when he was released a few hours later:

“They said they would charge me for distributing literature... I asked [the policeman] for the ordinance number [being violated], because they can’t put handcuffs on you if they cannot tell you why they’re detaining you. I said, ‘Show me where it’s illegal to do this.’ But he would not do it. The officer got mad and grabbed me. Then he told me that I was resisting arrest!”

CMPD spokesperson Jessica Wallin reportedly told qnotes that Turner was only detained. But in a video taken by another activist, one officer clearily says he's under arrest.

The city does have an ordinance against the distribution of handbills or other paper materials on vehicles. Some say it is rarely enforced..It's not a well-known ordinance in any case.

More disturbing is what allegedly happened after Turner was handcuffed and taken away in a police cruiser. Turner told ThinkProgress that he was never taken to the Mecklenburg County Jail. According to the report, “Instead of transporting Turner directly to the Mecklenburg County jail, which sits just a few blocks from Marshall Park, he said they took him first to an empty parking lot behind the highway. ‘They took me to three different spots other than the jail,’ he said. ‘They knew they were in the wrong.’”

A video of the incident doesn't show what happened prior to the confrontation but it does raise questions about whether the incident could have been handled better and tensions defused in a more productive manner. Initially, Turner calmly asks an onlooker to be a witness as he asks for the ordinance he is violating. But tensions soon escalate.  Several other officers eventually appear on the scene, and one is heard saying the matter will be investigated.

They should investigate.

After hearing about the arrest on Monday, about 30 participants from the Moral Monday rally — including state NAACP President Rev. William Barber, Charlotte NAACP President Rev. Kojo Nantambu and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham — marched silently to the Mecklenburg County Jail to ask for Turner’s release.

Turner was released shortly after and issued a citation.

On Tuesday, the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners appointed Turner to a board committee, prompting this email from Commissioner Bill James:
"I am not sure if this is just an isolated incident but it is troubling to vote for a candidate to serve on a board committee last night to represent the Board of Commissioners only to see that the day we appoint him he was arrested for violating the law.
"At one level it shows a lack of sophistication about how to get things done. At another level, if he is so supportive of civil disobedience why does he want to serve on a board which is clearly working ‘within the system’?

"Obviously he has the political bug, running for State Senate as a Democrat (but losing to Mr. Jackson I think).

"In any event, it is troubling that the candidate we select to represent us is a loose cannon."

Judge for yourself whether the video below shows "a loose cannon." It does show something troubling though - a heated confrontation between police and a citizen over a minor incident that looks as if it could have been avoided. 


Bill said...

Can either Bill James or the CMPD cite any case where the city pursued a case against businesses placing the flyers?

This 'breaking the law' claim is pretty weak if the law is never enforced.

David Godfrey said...

It should be illegal. All of it will end up wadded up on the ground.

Anonymous said...

I smell both a lawsuit and settlement and a huge amount of damage control on the part of CMPD over this. When will cops ever learn that they very seldom do anything "in secret" anymore? Jeesh; I mean, I know it's pretty much a blue collar job; but I remember when LEO's seemed to have more sense than we keep reading about lately.

Anonymous said...

i just smell a load of excrement. breaking the law is breaking the law. it's on the books. granted, shouldn't be held, but cited, yes.
get over it and move on. these types that just want to protest continue to protest everything when they don't get their way.

Anonymous said...

this doesn't even belong on any o-pinion page!

Richard Clark said...

Right, yeah if you watch the video, the guy is calm the whole time and does not resist... oh, and how DARE the police enforce LAWS?? Clearly this is another sign that the Charlotte Police Chief is a black hating RACIST!

Larry said...

Was this considered an extraordinary event? And if not then why not?