NAACP meeting's focus on police racial profiling

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - The focus of an NAACP meeting in downtown Charleston Thursday night was racial profiling by police.

Leaders of the organization pointed to the shooting of 19-year-old Denzel Curnell last month as an example of racial profiling that ultimately led to his death.

Based on investigation notes gathered by Charleston and state police, Curnell was stopped by an off-duty officer at an apartment complex known for its crime issues. Curnell was wearing a hoodie and pants on a humid, 85-degree night, something the officer described as concerning. During the interaction with Curnell, the teen shot and killed himself.

Since then, the Charleston chapter of the NAACP has been asking for members of the community to step forward and describe their experiences with police and how they've been profiled.

On Thursday night, case after case was cited by the NAACP and members of the public. Each case alleged being profiled by police officers.

"Racial profiling. There seem to be some people in denial about it. We have gotten so many complaints. We have shared them with the chief of police and most recently with the mayor," said Charleston NAACP president Dot Scott.

One by one, people of all races and backgrounds shared their personal stories of how they or members of their families have been profiled.

"Five of my grandchildren are bi-racial. My oldest grandchild just graduated from high school. He's on a scholarship. In the last month he has been stopped three times by police. Handcuffed, searched, guns pulled on him for nothing. Never any charges brought," said one North Charleston resident.

Another man, a veteran, said he was also the target of police scrutiny after he was discharged.

"Recently, I just got myself a new car after being out of the military, and I literally had to put blue veteran plates on my vehicle to stop myself from being pulled over. I got pulled over three times in a week. And I had to get veteran plates to make that stop happening," said Ramon Carballo.

George Hopkins was another person in attendance at the monthly meeting. It was his first.

But he didn't show up because he had been profiled. Hopkins said he attended the meeting because the Curnell case moved him to show his support for those fighting against discrimination.

"This appears to be yet another case of walking while black and being stopped. In this case, all because he was wearing a hoodie," Hopkins said.

Before he left, Hopkins picked up the paperwork to become a member of the NAACP.

The Charleston Police Department has not yet commented on the meeting and the complaints voiced during it.