Peaceful activists seek accountability, renewed trust from police
Just two days after a group of concerned black men delivered a list of 10 demands to the Rock Hill Police Department, the group’s leadership is set to meet with city’s mayor Tuesday.
Contact with the police chief is pending.
The group – Concerned Black Men of the city of Rock Hill – is demanding more accountability, transparency and communication between the police and black residents after a spate of violent actions and shootings by police against black people around South Carolina and the nation.
The group marched from downtown to the police department Saturday afternoon, before presenting a list of demands that the city and its police department live up to their core mission of building trust among residents – a mission the black men say the city and police have failed to achieve.
The march and delivery of the letter has led to immediate action.
Mayor Doug Echols called Brad Rawlinson, a Rock Hill lawyer and organizer of the group, Monday afternoon to set up a 2 p.m. meeting Tuesday with Rawlinson and other group leaders, Rawlinson said.
Rawlinson said that the men are ready to talk to, and listen to, city leaders about the concerns the men have, which include use of unmarked vehicles with no dashboard cameras, use of force complaints, how officers are assigned to and interact with the public in predominantly black neighborhoods, and more. The group’s members say they are not anti-police, but pro-accountability, equality and justice.
“I appreciate that the chief has said he will respond to us – it shows a level of openness,” Rawlinson said. “A response from them to any group of residents is good news.”
Rawlinson, however, while saying he looks forward to meeting with the mayor and police chief, reserved judgment on what may come of the meeting with the mayor and the presumptive meeting with the police chief until face-to-face talks happen.
Police Chief Chris Watts reviewed the letter of demands Monday and will directly contact the group at a later date, said Mark Bollinger, spokesman for the department.
The meeting Tuesday will come just hours before Echols and others will speak at a meet and greet for the community and police after the rash of violence against officers in Texas and Louisiana that came after two more black men were killed by police in Louisiana and Minnesota.
Watts, the police chief, is going to attend the meet and greet, Bollinger said
The meet and greet was set up by community leaders to foster unity and community between all residents and the police of Rock Hill and York County.