Group protests racial profiling in Durham

jalexander@newsobserver.comSeptember 16, 2013 

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Durham resident Meghan McDowell made her feelings clear to passersby on West Chapel Hill Street before a rally and march downtown Monday evening, Sept. 16. McDowell was one of over 50 Durham residents who took to the sidewalk in a rally starting at the Durham Police Department and marching to City Hall. The group was rallying against racial disparity in DPD traffic stops and for Carlos Antonio Riley Jr. of Durham, who is accused of shooting a police officer.

HARRY LYNCH — hlynch@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

— Monday night, more than 75 people – some black, some white – marched from Durham Police Headquarters to City Hall to protest racial profiling in Durham.

They were demanding police accountability and calling for community oversight in the wake of accusations that the city’s police officers target minorities.

Among those marching Monday night were supporters of Carlos Antonio Riley Jr., a 22-year-old black man accused of shooting and wounding a Durham police officer during a December 2012 traffic stop.

Monday’s rally was organized by a group called Fostering Alternative Drug Enforcement Coalition.

“What we want is for the Durham Police Department to treat all communities the same,” said Nia Wilson, one of the organizers. “We are not asking for anyone to be fired. We don’t think that will solve anything. We want healing and reconciliation.”

According to the N.C. Department of Justice, blacks made up 59 percent of the drivers stopped in Durham during the past five years, while making up 41 percent of the city’s population in the 2010 census. Whites accounted for 39 percent of the stops and 42 percent of the population.

Raleigh showed a similar trend. Blacks accounted for 47 percent of the traffic stops from 2008-2013, while making up 29 percent of the city’s population. Whites accounted for 50 percent of the stops and 57.5 percent of the population.

According to court documents, Officer Kelly Stewart, who is also black, stopped a vehicle Riley was driving and a struggle ensued in which Stewart was shot in the leg with his own gun.

“We want Durham to stand up for their own,” Carlos Riley Sr. said. “To stop allowing the police to cover up their messes, because we know what really happened.”

Riley, a convicted drug dealer, was charged after the traffic stop with being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a stolen firearm. In July, he pleaded guilty to the first count and faces up to 10 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $250,000.

“The misconduct of officer Kelly Stewart has taken my brother away from me,” Destiny Riley, 13, Carlos Riley’s sister, told the crowd. “Carlos Riley Jr. could have been another Trayvon Martin, another black man killed. I stand here today seeking justice for my brother.”

Riley is still incarcerated on a $1.5 million bail.

Friday, police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said the Durham Police Department delivers police services in the same manner to all of our citizens with no consideration of race, ethnicity or gender. She said the department would not comment on Riley’s case because it is still pending in court.

Alexander: 919-932-2008 Twitter: @jonmalexander1

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