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Greensboro arrests highlight ongoing struggle over police transparency

The arrest of seven protesters at Greensboro’s city hall Wednesday is the latest incident in an ongoing struggle police transparency in North Carolina.

From the story in Greensboro’s News & Record:

GSO Operation Transparency has been demanding since mid-December all written and electronic correspondence connected to the violent arrest of Dejuan Yourse on June 17, 2016, by Officer Travis Cole, who has since left the Greensboro Police Department. On Wednesday, about 40 members of the group marched to City Hall about 9:45 a.m. The seven were arrested after City Manager Jim Westmoreland told the group that the documents would not be released.

Police identified the arrested as Pamela Theresa Crosson, 42, of 813 Glenwood Ave.; Sabina Nogo, 26, of 2406 Gracewood Court; Cletis John-Allen “CJ” Brinson, 28, of 504 Gorrell St.; James Lamar Gibson, 26, of 422 N. Cedar St.; Sofia Tull, 25, of 519 N. Mendenhall St.; Juan Carlos Miranda Buzetta, 26, of 1100 Hicks Court; and Gary Scott Kenton, 66, of 606 Park Ave.

They were taken before a Guilford County magistrate, police spokeswoman Susan Danielsen said. The charge is a Class 3 misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $200. None of the names of those as arrested appeared in jail records late Wednesday.

“Now more than ever we need (the City Council) to put safety above comfort,” Brinson said before the arrests. “There must be something that makes them uncomfortable about releasing the files.

“We need to ensure we live in a city with democracy and transparency,” he said. “I’m prepared to stand for democracy and protect those who are most vulnerable.”

Footage of the June 17 arrest from the body cameras of Cole and fellow Officer Charlotte Jackson was released September 2016. It shows Cole punching Yourse in the face and throwing him the porch to the ground. Cole and Jackson were investigating a possible robbery at the address of Yourse’s mother. Like Cole, Jackson has since resigned from the police force.

Greensboro is one of a number of communities that have been struggling with the question of police body camera footage and other records.

Charlotte is still reckoning with police response to demonstrations over last year’s police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.

Greensboro’s police chief said last week that police violence taints the entire profession and his department has been working on its own problems with public trust and transparency.

For more on existing laws on access to police body cameras and other records, see N.C. Policy Watch’s talk with Jonathan Jones, director of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition and an instructor of media law, ethics and media writing at Elon University.

 

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