The city of Charlotte, N.C., and its police department have agreed to adopt new measures that would revise dispersal methods during protests as part of a settlement with civil rights organizations.
The settlement stipulates that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) is banned from using CS tear gas during protests as well as chemical weapons that restrict the movements of protesters, known as “kettling,” according to a press released from the North Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The settlement would also ban CMPD police from firing pepper balls at the necks and heads of demonstrators, require that police give protesters enough time to disperse and mandates that police must provide clear dispersal orders to demonstrators in both English and Spanish, the ACLU noted.
The organizations, which include the North Carolina ACLU, NAACP and other civil rights groups filed a lawsuit a few weeks after the clash that occurred in early June 2020. Video footage captured from the encounter showed demonstrators were hit with pepper balls and “kettled” while trying to escape.
The lawsuit alleged that protesters’ rights were violated by police, claiming violence occurred during a peaceful demonstration against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd's death, according to the Charlotte Observer.
“People should not be brutalized when they are exercising their right to protest. This agreement is a step in the right direction, but it’s insufficient to reckon with the violence and trauma protesters endured at the hands of police across the state last year,” Kristie Puckett-Williams, statewide manager of the ACLU of North Carolina’s Campaign for Smart Justice, said in a statement.
CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings, who took the helm of the department in the middle of the city’s 2020 protests, said the department revised its policies following outrage that had ensued over the encounter last year, the Observer reported.
“We are a learning agency and always looking for ways to improve as we owe that to the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and all of those we serve because it is the right thing to do,” Jennings told the Observer in a statement.