After Shootings Across The Country, North Carolina Grieves

Jul 9, 2016

Demonstrations over this week’s fatal shootings in Dallas, Minnesota and Louisiana spread to North Carolina on Friday, with gatherings in Raleigh, Fayetteville and Winston-Salem and one group calling on easier access to police body camera footage.

Hundreds gathered at Moore Square in downtown Raleigh on Friday night, with one woman reading for 12 minutes a list of names of African Americans killed by police this year. Earlier in the day, more than a dozen high school students delivered a petition for Gov. Pat McCrory to veto a bill that would make police footage less accessible.

People at Moore Square held candles and hugged each other, and some speakers urged people to come together, while others expressed mixed emotions about the killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., Philandro Castile in St. Paul, Minn., and five police officers in Dallas.

Rolanda Byrd, whose 24-year-old son Akiel Denkins was killed by a white police officer in Southeast Raleigh this year, said she wanted to find a way to stop the deadly force white police officers have used to kill unarmed black men -- and apparently one black man used to kill white police officers this week.

"I do understand the feelings behind why he did what he did. We are fed up," Byrd said. "But I'm not saying that's what I want to happen here in Raleigh. I stand in peace. I stand to learn how I can do better, and how we can do better to make this thing go away."

Earlier on Friday afternoon, Charlotte-area high school students with the non-profit Southeast Asian Coalition delivered more than 2,600 signatures to the state Administrative Building in downtown Raleigh calling on Gov. Pat McCrory to veto a bill that would not make police body camera footage public information.

House Bill 972, which is on McCrory’s desk for signature, would give law enforcement full discretion over what and how to release body camera and dashboard video. Police would be required to release a recording only under an order from state court.

High school students delivered a petition to the state Administrative Building in downtown Raleigh calling on Gov. Pat McCrory to veto a bill that would not make police body camera footage public information.
Credit Jorge Valencia / WUNC

Difficult access to police recordings erodes the public’s trust in police and would draws out the grieving process to families of people killed in encounters with police, said the coalition's Director Cat Bao Le. She pointed to the case of Chieu Di Thi Vo, a mentally ill Vietnamese-American woman who was fatally killed by a Greensboro Police officer. Vo’s family was denied access to tape of the shooting for two years.

"The most obvious impact that we can have with vetoing HB972 is to really achieve what body cameras are supposed to achieve, which is increase trust with the community," Le said.