Up & Coming Weekly

May 02, 2023

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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6 UCW MAY 3 - 9, 2023 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM make your Radio sound funny. Mornings 6am to 10am on WFAY. Bud & Broadway In their first report to the Fayetteville City Council, representatives of the Community Police Advisory Board faced questions that prompted contentious exchanges between city leaders. More than a year since it was established, the advisory board presented its inaugural report at the April 24 council meeting. e council accepted the report by a vote of 9-1, with council member Shakeyla Ingram voting in opposition. Council member Mario Benavente, while voting to accept the report, voiced criticism of the advisory board, arguing that it has not gone far enough to hold police accountable. e advisory board was impaneled by the city in August 2021 with the purpose of reviewing and recommending methods of improving police prac- tices and policies. e board is headed by Gregory Perkins, a volunteer chaplain with the Fayetteville Police Department. Perkins, in his presentation to the City Council, said the board has spent time learning from city and police officials about how policing works in Fayetteville, calling the inaugural year a "growing process." "One of our learning curves was trying to under- stand as a board what law enforcement and policing in Fayetteville looks like. We hear lots of stuff on television and radio, social media, about policing and other cities. But what does that look like in the city of Fayetteville?" Perkins said. Perkins said through this learning process, the board has tried to give residents the opportunity "to have dialogue and to ask questions and to make comments about what they think public safety and policing should look like." e goal for 2023, Perkins said, is to continue to hear from residents and make recommendations accordingly. "A lot of these goals deal with being very visible in our community so that the citizens of Fayetteville can have access to us," Perkins said. "So we can hear their concerns, bring those concerns back as a board, process those concerns and then make recommendations to the Police Department as well as to you members of City Council." At the conclusion of the presentation, Benavente asked Perkins if he could identify what happened in May 2020 that, Benavente argued, led to the creation of the advisory board. "Not specifically," Perkins responded. In May 2020, a Minneapolis police officer killed Fayetteville native George Floyd, a Black man who was unarmed and in police custody when he died. Protests erupted across the country in the following weeks, including in Fayetteville, where civil unrest was spurred at the Market House, a building down- town that has served as an icon for the city. African slaves were bought and sold at the Market House in the 1800s. Council member Ingram said Perkins should be aware of the civil unrest that occurred in Fayetteville in 2020. Perkins responded that he needed more specifics. "I was a part of the city group that asked that the Market House be repurposed. But when you say 'civil unrest,' just give me a date," he said. "When we say May 2020, it is unforgivable for any- one to forget what happened," Ingram responded. "And I think for anyone to lead an organization, it should ring the bell like it was yesterday. So it is a bit alarming that it didn't ring a bell to you because I think many people in there, they'll have some significant trauma to what occurred — whether they look like me or don't look like me." Ingram is a Black woman. Mayor Mitch Colvin took issue with Ingram's line of questioning. "We have a volunteer board member who volun- teers their time and effort, trying to make the city a better place on a board the city established," Colvin said. "is is not an interrogation." Ingram interrupted him and tried to clarify her point, but Colvin gaveled her response and told her to "respect the decorum of this office and your seat." "If it's germane to this report, then we will talk about it. If it is not," Colvin continued, "have that on your own time and not the council's time." In a final comment on the advisory board, Be- navente criticized its structure and argued that it doesn't meet its purpose. "In the summer of 2020, activists called, de- manded, lobbied the City Council to establish some kind of citizens' review board, some kind of group of citizens that will be able to look at instances of po- lice brutality … (and) have a chance to say whether or not this is the kind of action that we want our police to engage in," Benavente said. "We didn't get that review board. We got an advisory board. So, no authority for any of the recommendations to really be taken. ey give advice." Colvin said the city is not allowed to go further because of North Carolina law. "North Carolina doesn't allow a review process as many of the advocates that you mentioned had asked for," Colvin said. "is was the closest thing that we can legally do." Democrats in the N.C. General Assembly have attempted in the past two legislative sessions to allow a more stringent review process of municipal police departments, but those bills stalled in the legislature. NEWS Police Advisory Board draws criticism from some on Fayetteville City Council by BEN SESSOMS, CityView Today BEN SESSOMS, City View Today. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcom- ingweekly.com 910-484-6200. Representatives of the Community Police Advisory Board presented its inaugural report to the Fayetteville City Council on April 24. (File photo)

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