WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Activists in Wilmington came together Wednesday to honor George Floyd and others killed by police.
A group of about two dozen people met at the 1898 Memorial to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It’s not the numbers, it’s the passion, and people are dedicated and still know that this issue is not over,” said Black Lives Matter Wilmington leader Sonya Patrick. “Even a year later there is still much work to do and giving up is not an option.”
Several speakers addressed the small but diverse crowd, representing those of different ages and races.
“I’m a white person in this country and so I can’t ever understand the depth of what my African American brothers and sister face, but I want to be able to stand to be a voice for change,” said pastor Christina Turner.
Patrick believes change starts locally with the creation of a Citizens Review Board. The board would investigate claims of brutality or misconduct in the Wilmington Police Department.
“I think a citizens review board would build in the law enforcement because right now we don’t have any confidence in the law enforcement here in Wilmington, NC or in the nation and we have every reason not to feel safe,” Patrick said.
Mayor Bill Saffo says he and the rest of Wilmington City Council support that effort.
“In the aftermath of George Floyd and talking with our new police chief Donny Williams and Donny was very supportive of it,” Saffo said. “We think the more transparency that we have, the more that people are involved in the process of investigating the officer if there is an incident, the better it is for the police department and the better it is for the community.”
Saffo says there are some legal obstacles they must overcome before a citizens review board can be created.
“Number one is personnel files, we cannot release a personnel file because it is protected by state law,” Saffo said. “The other thing is the release of body cam and audio visual that we pick up in a police car or police officer is wearing or has on them, that is also protected by state law.”
Saffo says council has asked state delegation to explore ways to change those laws for the City of Wilmington so that a Citizens Review Board would have access to all necessary evidence. A time frame for when or if that will happen is unclear.