Raleigh City Council votes for review of police reform demands

The Raleigh City Council agreed Tuesday night to review demands from community advocates calling for greater police reform and accountability.

“There are a lot of valid, valid emotions tonight,” said Council member Mary Black, who was elected last year. “I just want to acknowledge the harm and concerns brought up tonight around RPD and accountability.”

Nearly half of the 40 people who signed up to speak addressed police reform and police accountability. Some held signs and photos of people killed by Raleigh police officers or who died in police custody.

Many mentioned Darryl Williams, a Raleigh man who died after being tased multiple times by Raleigh police officers last month.

Raleigh Demands Justice, which includes Emancipate NC, Save Our Sons and Young American Protest, gave city leaders a packet of information that included eight demands ranging from firing the police officers involved in Williams’ death to dismantling and rebuilding the current police advisory board.

“RPD must stop wasting taxpayer money and city resources by concentrating its officers and surveillance in Black neighborhoods,” said Jenny McKenney, delivering the packet to the council. “Our community must stop approaching individuals without probable cause that a crime is being or is about to be committed. A history of repeated calls to an area does not constitute probable cause to harass anyone and everyone in that area.”

Black called for a moment of silence for the people who have died during police interactions, and then made a motion for the demands to be sent to the city’s Human Relations Commission for future recommendations to the City Council.

The motion passed 7-0 with Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin absent and excused from the meeting.

The demands include:

  • Firing the police officers involved in Williams’ death.

  • Stopping the practice of “proactive” patrols and “other forms of over-policing in low-income and minority communities.”

  • Stopping the use of tasers until officers can “prove definitively” that they can follow police policies regarding the weapons.

  • Requiring Raleigh police officers to carry liability insurance.

  • Dismantling and rebuilding the police advisory board.

  • Requiring officers to undergo implicit and racial bias training.

  • Fully funding a stand-alone, non-law enforcement team to respond to mental health crisis calls similar to the HEART program in Durham.

  • Adopting the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a federal police reform bill that is currently stalled in Congress.

Mayor Pro Tem Corey Branch said the comments were things they’d heard before, and that people in his Southeast Raleigh district have mixed opinions about the police.

“Some definitely appreciate them, love them, are glad they’re out there. And they want to see more of them,” he said. “Others want to see less of them. So those are the things I have to balance.”

Sending the report to the city’s Human Relations Commission was the “right thing” to do Tuesday night,” Branch said.