Racial Justice Coalition files 20 citizen complaints detailing APD excessive force

Press release from the Racial Justice Coalition:

After due diligence and follow-up with survivors of excessive  force used by the Asheville Police Department during peaceful summer protests, the Racial Justice Coalition (the RJC) filed 20 complaints with the Professional Standards unit of the Asheville Police Department on Nov. 16. The following day, RJC volunteers called in to the Asheville Public Safety Committee to verbally share the survivor accounts with City council committee members, City manager Debra Campbell, City lawyer Brad Branham and Asheville Police Chief Zack.

“The purpose of this presentation is to rebut the common misconception that  because complaints hadn’t been filed, that no complaints existed, “ said local attorney Ben Scales, the first to speak. “Most of the complaints filed are anonymous because the survivors are fearful of retaliation for speaking out.” 
Scales asked the committee to keep in mind, as they listened to the survivor accounts, certain APD policies on the use of chemical munitions. These included that protesters were to be given clear, amplified and repeated warnings, that  munitions were not to be fired directly at protesters, and that APD had a duty to tend to those injured. The verbal accounts would show that these policies were not followed, Scales said. The public can listen to the accounts shared by visiting https://www.ashevillenc.gov/government/city-council-committees/public-safety-committee/ and clicking the recording for Nov. 17. 
The RJC had previously been invited by Chair Brian Haynes to make a formal presentation of the survivor accounts during the October Public Safety Committee. At the last minute, this presentation was pulled from the agenda with the assent of a majority of City Council members, several of whom are on record, during summer City Council meetings, with requests that the survivor accounts be heard. To date, there has not been a formal process proposed by City staff for the inclusion of these accounts in the Asheville Police Department investigation of its own actions during the summer protests. 
“The Racial Justice Coalition is weary of the delay in developing a process where these accounts will get the attention they deserve,”, said Rob Thomas, Community Liaison with the Racial Justice Coalition. “ The next step that APD should take is officially starting the administrative investigation process to identify if injustices have been committed.”
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