NAACP, cops address racial profiling claims

By Nikki

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV)A special meeting Thursday led to a heated discussion among law enforcement, the NAACP and the public about race relations.

The meeting came days after an ACLU report claims that police arrest African Americans in South Carolina 2.8 times more than whites for marijuana possessioneven though both reportedly smoke the drug the same.

At the start of the meeting, Dot Scott, president of Charleston NAACP, made it clear that Thursday's meeting was to develop a better partnership with the black community and law enforcement.

After she addressed those in attendance, one by one people took to the podium to discuss their own personal experiences with racial profiling.

"I should not feel intimidated to leave out of my home at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning and because of the neighborhoods but because of the officers," stated one woman in attendance.

Charleston NAACP Vice President, Reverend Joe Darby, claimed police have targeted his own wife in the past, pulling her over simply for the color of her skin.

"When she got pulled over, the cop gave her a ticket for having an expired tag," said Darby. "He misdated it because the tag wasn't expired."

Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen says he does have more officers patrolling predominately black communities but with good reason.

"And I'll tell you why we do that--because the community members in those communities call us and ask us to have officers there because in many cases--they're frightened by what's going on in their communities," said Mullen.

Mullen along with Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon say they disagree with the ACLU's findings.

"It hurt me because I know, we in the leadership in law enforcement in this state, do not target any particular group," stated Cannon.

Mullen also added that more white people are stopped in the city of Charleston and given warnings than African Americans.

"There is no huge disparity between white and blacks arrested for marijuana possession in the city of Charleston," stated Mullen.

Both Mullen and Cannon urged the community to file a complaint with the appropriate department if they feel they've ever been inappropriately targeted.

Mount Pleasant police also released arrest data for 2012, showing that whites made of more than 77 percent of the marijuana offender pool. Blacks made up 22 percent, the report states.

White males were arrested more often than any demographic, the records show, at 65 percent.