Monday night, after hearing from members of the public, the Charlotte City Council passed a new civil liberties resolution. The vote was unanimous.
The resolution reaffirms the right of citizens to peacefully demonstrate and to record the police in action. And it bars the police from arbitrarily stopping and searching individuals unless the police have a clear and articulated reason for that search.
But at its heart is a ban on 'arbitrary profiling' of citizens. Jabril Hough spoke to the council on behalf of Charlotte’s Muslim community. "None of us should be profiled on the basis of our race, religion, country of origin, gender or for any political speech that we’re involved with."
And this resolution does stop the police from using race, religion, sexual identity, and perceived immigration status as a reason to initiate contact with a member of the public. It also calls for the CMPD to collect data on officers to identify if profiling is being done by the police. Vicki Rowan wanted to know how
and when that information would be shared including with the citizens review board, or CRB. "Who will have access to that data? And under what circumstances? Council, how often? The CRB, when? The public, how often?" Transparency, she argued, is key to building trust. While the resolution does leave some unanswered questions, the council seemed to agree that something is better than nothing.
"You know as a black man I’ve been stopped a few times around this country," said Council Member Al Austin, "We are trying to engage and build those relationships. And I’m very happy as a black man that it's happening." As were those in the audience during the city council’s debate last night.