On Tuesday, April 20, four members of the Spirit of the Sit-in Movement Initiative spoke at the Greensboro City Council meeting. They were backed by over twenty other members and supporters, some of whom had to wait outside because the room was packed. The meetings are broadcast live on local television. Here is one of the statements that was made to the Council.
Last Tuesday, over a dozen students from our organization including myself met with Mayor Knight and the Assistant City Manager for Public Safety. In that meeting we brought up our central concern about a subculture of corruption within the Greensboro Police Department, citing a number of examples including former Chief David Wray and continued harassment of the Latin Kings and Queens.
The Mayor and Assistant City Manager were dismissive of our request for them to address this threat to public safety, instead hiding behind their positions and assuring us that things would be resolved in time. They also stated that they would not discuss pre-existing conditions and issues but would look forward as if the past isn’t what brought us here.
As the City Council, you are public servants. It is not only your job to be responsive to the people and represent your constituents but to be strong leaders who stand for justice. We have noticed a general trend of City Council moving forward without citizen input or against overwhelming community opposition on a wide range of issues such as the White St Landfill or rezoning in College Hill. So far this Council has attempted to wash its hands of the corruption in the police department, and one councilmember even tried to deceive the public this summer by claiming that the council has no control over the police.
These issues will not resolve themselves, and the lack of action by this council is actually a step away from government accountability. Our concerns for transparency, accountability, and justice cannot be dismissed or marginalized. These issues are pressing and urgent such that business cannot continue as usual. Once you serve a narrow self interest and not the people you lose the right to say you represent us.
We request a statement of priority from this council that outlines a commitment to take action to address corruption within the police department. This is not the first time we have made this request, but so far we have been met with a deafening silence. The level of police corruption in this city has reached a level that extends beyond a small public safety concern and instead represents a dangerous threat. How bad does the situation have to get before this Council takes action or individual council members speak out? Will you lead this City on these important issues, or will you continue to deny any responsibility and pretend that someone else is going to clean up this mess for us?