If you haven’t been following the case of Jose Charles in Greensboro, it’s time to start paying attention.
The story of the altercation between a 16-year-old Charles and police goes back to last year’s July 4th celebrations in downtown Greensboro.
Charles was 15 when he was arrested and charged with malicious assault on an officer, disorderly conduct, simple affray and resisting arrest, according to Figueroa. The teen also is accused of spitting blood on an officer’s face.
Figueroa and several community organizations said Charles was attacked by a group of kids, then grabbed by an officer near Friendly Avenue. He spit blood because he was coughing and couldn’t breathe, witnesses said.
This week, after months of tensions over access to the police video of the incident, protesters disrupted a Greensboro City Council meeting and staged a protest in the street outside where 8 were arrested for impeding the flow of traffic.
The tone was set early in the meeting when, in the midst of a discussion about a downtown parking deck, protesters scattered throughout the capacity crowd raised pink signs reading “Justice for Jose,” “City council take action” and “We believe the PCRB.”
The protest came on the heels of city council watching restricted police body camera video showing the July 4, 2016 incident involving the police and the then-15-year-old on Monday night, with discussion in closed session bleeding into the next day. Council members have made no comment about the video, citing a superior court judge’s order prohibiting them from discussing it.
Also precipitating the protest was the resignation of three members of the police complaint review board. Lindy Garnette, the first to resign, was pressured by the city attorney and chair of the human relations chair after she spoke publicly about the board’s disagreement with the police department’s decision to clear itself of wrongdoing in a complaint filed on his behalf by Jose Charles’ mother, Tamara Figueroa.
The Charles case is just the latest in a series of incidents that have heightened tension between police and the communities they serve. Last year’s fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte led to large scale protests and rioting.
The case is also the latest in which access to police video – and whether public officials can comment on it – has been central to the controversy.