U.S.Justice Department Attends NAACP Town Hall Meeting
People in Macon are expressing their growing concerns about policies and procedures within the city's police department on Saturday.
More than 100 people showed up for a town hall meeting hosted by the Macon branch of the NAACP and attended by an official from the U.S Department of Justice. The NAACP’s state president, Edward DuBose, was also on hand to hear testimony from community members regarding safety and racial issues and alleged injustices perpetrated by the Macon Police Department. The NAACP is trying to find ways to work with law enforcement and the Department of Justice to solve racial profiling issues and other concerns.
"We're hearing about how people are stopped or how people are handled,” DuBose said. “There needs to be an understanding of how to deal with people. Diversity seems to be missing here."
"We have a lot of complaints with the police department and it hasn't just started, it's been like this for a long time,” NAACP Macon Branch President, Gwenette Westbrooks said.
One hot topic at the meeting was the recent decision by Bibb County District Attorney, David Cooke, not to file charges against Macon Police Officer, Clayton Sutton, who shot and killed an unarmed Sammie Davis Jr. back in December in a Kroger parking lot. Many people also testified about their own encounters with police, leaving some very emotional.
"I'm so ready for the city of Macon to wake up and see what's going on in their city," Macon resident Gwen Davis who shared her personal story about an incident with a few officers.
With every complaint, the state president of the NAACP asked for documentation and names to help investigate the allegations. The organization says it wants people to know that a few bad apples don't represent the entire force.
"They're here to serve and protect us and we don't want our community to think all police officers are like that because there's a trust issue right now,” Westbrooks said.
"We want to improve race relations but we need to understand that there's a race problem first," DuBose said.
The NAACP wants to meet with Macon city officials and the justice department soon to discuss the concerns. No one from the Macon Police Department or Bibb County Sheriff's office was invited to the meeting. NAACP is continuing to investigate the police shooting of Davis, despite Cooke saying it's closed.