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North Charleston Police
Do you think that the North Charleston Police Department has taken appropriate steps towards reform a year after the Walter Scott shooting?

A Year After Walter Scott’s Death, Much Is The Same
4/6/2016 4:43:24 PM

Walter Scott

Walter Scott with his mother

Walter Scott

Walter Scott

Walter Scott's funeral
By Barney Blakeney

Monday marked the one year anniversary of the police shooting death of Walter Scott, which was captured on video as North Charleston police officer Michael Slager fired five bullets into his back while Scott ran away. Although the video-recorded homicide drew national attention and scrutiny, it has not translated into significant change in police/community relations, according to local civil rights leaders.

In the year since Scott was killed, National Action Network (NAN) and other civil rights organizations have asked for reform within the North Charleston Police Department.

Those reforms include training and policy reform. NAN’s South Carolina Field Director James Johnson said since the shooting, several town hall meetings have been held. At each, citizens came forth telling compelling stories of police abuse that continues, he said.

Racial profiling and police abuse continue, said Johnson, despite that the number of traffic stops conducted by officers has declined 50 percent since Scott’s death. The culture that created Michael Slager still exists, Johnson stated.

“That culture didn’t start with Walter Scott and it hasn’t ended with his death. The same administrators who were in place and who ordered racial profiling in making traffic stops, are still in place,” he felt.

North Charleston NAACP President Ed Bryant said, “The only thing that’s changed is the number of traffic stops. We’ve met with city officials and have gotten no response in terms of making any kind of reform. Police officers are not stopping Black people at the same rate as when Scott was killed, but their approach is the same. That culture is still there. At the last town hall meeting, over 100 people attended. We’re still getting the same complaints.”

Charleston NAACP President Dot Scott said had North Charleston police exercised greater discretion in making traffic stops at the time Scott was killed, he might be alive. There’s no reason a man should be dead because of a broken brake light, she explained. While officers on the street may have changed some of their actions, Scott said she sees no similar changes coming from the administration.

NAN Religious Affairs and Community Relations Vice President Rev. Nelson Rivers proposed considering the implementation of police body cameras, more has changed in the year since Scott’s death than in the previous 20 years before he was killed. Whether the change body cameras has prompted will be sustained is yet to be seen, he said.

The four civil rights leaders all agree that change in police/community relations must come. “If we are to honor the death of Walter Scott, there must be change,” Johnson said.

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