By: Dave Munday, Post & Courier
Civil rights leaders continued their call Wednesday for a federal investigation of the North Charleston Police Department.
About half a dozen gathered for a news conference to announce a Thursday town hall meeting on policing reform. The purpose of the meeting is to review and document complaints of racial discrimination by police officers.
This is the third meeting to gather evidence to persuade the Justice Department to conduct a civil rights investigation.
“North Charleston has to be held accountable,” James Johnson, state coordinator for the National Action Network, said outside Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church.
The Thursday meeting was planned before North Charleston announced its own town hall meetings to gather input on the creation of a citizens group to hear concerns. The leaders called North Charleston’s meetings an effort to distract from their call for a civil rights investigation.
“This is a deflection, but we’re not budging from the fact that we want the civil rights division to investigate,” said Louis Smith, executive director of The Community Resource Center.
North Charleston’s town hall meetings were led by Walter Atkinson, a Justice Department community relations expert, and Police Chief Eddie Driggers.
“We no longer want to have people making decisions for us,” Shaundra Young Scott, executive director of the ACLU of South Carolina, said during the news conference.
The North Charleston branch of the NAACP, the Concerned Community Citizens Alliance, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund were also listed as sponsors of the Thursday meeting.
Both efforts are a response to last year’s fatal shooting of Walter Scott, a black man, by Officer Michael Slager, who is white. Slager has been charged with murder.