RALEIGH, N.C. - In an important win for police transparency and accountability, the ACLU of North Carolina, the Charlotte Chapter of the NAACP, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and several Charlotte-based civil rights attorneys reached an agreement with the City of Charlotte and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) in the wake of violent attacks against peaceful protesters on June 2, 2020. Civil rights groups filed suit on behalf of NAACP, Charlotte Uprising, Team TruBlue, Southeast Asian Coalition Village (SEAC), the ACLU of North Carolina, and four Charlotte residents over a year ago, when peaceful protesters took to the streets to take a stand against police brutality following the murder of George Floyd.
The terms of the agreement include extensive revisions to CMPD directives, including a ban on the use of CS tear gas during protests; a ban on the use of chemical weapons to “kettle” or trap protesters; an agreement that crowd dispersal orders must be communicated clearly and repeatedly in English and Spanish, allowing protesters reasonable time to disperse, identifying at least two egress routes for protesters to safely disperse; and a provision that prohibits CMPD from directing pepper balls at protesters’ heads and necks. The agreement also states that the CMPD will not use bikes as weapons during protests, except when someone poses a threat to safety. The settlement agreement will be in effect for four years and provides a mechanism to enforce violations by CMPD.
“People should not be brutalized when they are exercising their right to protest. This agreement is a step in the right direction, but it’s insufficient to reckon with the violence and trauma protesters endured at the hands of police across the state last year,” said Kristie Puckett-Williams, statewide manager of the ACLU of North Carolina’s Campaign for Smart Justice.
The suit alleged that on June 2, 2020, CMPD orchestrated a premeditated and violent attack on peaceful demonstrators, trapping them from the front and back in a city block through a military maneuver called “kettling” and then, with no route of escape, assaulting them with rubber bullets, tear gas, stinger grenades and pepper balls shot from a parking deck adjacent to the block. The agreement outlines the changes to police policies and practices that CMPD has agreed to implement as a result of the lawsuit.
"We are pleased that we, along with other Plaintiffs, could reach an agreement with the City of Charlotte and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department. Black people have long protested for fair treatment under the law, which includes law enforcement’s responses to our peaceful protests to protect the lives of Black people and people of color from law enforcement. We trust and believe in a law that guarantees us the freedom to assemble and the freedom of speech. Our agreement is another step in a series of ongoing efforts to protect those fundamental rights before using arbitrary and violent police force. Our First Amendment is the bedrock of our fundamental rights and does not exclude Black people and people of color," said Reverend Corinne Mack, President of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Chapter of the NAACP.
“There hasn’t been nearly enough reckoning from the police’s actions in response to last year’s protests. We must not forget that people were protesting police violence and the police brutally proved the point of the protesters with their violent actions. We will continue to support protesters in their demands for justice and police accountability,” said Chantal Stevens, executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina.