Wake school board member wants apology

Wake County School Board Member Keith Sutton

July 21, 2010 9:29:20 PM PDT
Wake County School Board Member Keith Sutton says he wants an apology from Raleigh police after he was nearly arrested during a protest at Tuesday's school board meeting.The meeting came to a halt as dozens of people stood arm-in-arm and began chanting during the public comment session. Within minutes, police officers tried to break up the group.

Sutton says he was just trying to claim down the protesters when he says police were being too forceful.

"At that point I mentioned to a couple of the officers, questioning the amount of force they were using was necessary at that point one of the officers started to apprehend me, putting my arm behind my back," said Sutton during a press conference Wednesday. "There was some conversation about why I was being arrested, why they were apprehending me, I did not get an answer."

Sutton is the former executive director of the state NAACP and he says he knew a lot of the people in Tuesday's crowd of protestors, including a woman with a walker he felt may have gotten hurt had he not intervened.

"My concern is the presence that was there particularly prior to the meeting," Sutton said. "One of the points I hope to raise with the chief is how sometimes even in terms of good intention, efforts to protect the public can also at time incite the public, add fuel to the fire."

Sutton says he wants a meeting with Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan and an apology from the officer who put his arms behind his back.

As of Wednesday, Sutton has not spoken to Dolan. However, earlier in the day, Dolan released a statement on the matter.

"I would be more than willing to meet with board member Sutton to stress the importance of his not becoming involved with police officers performing their duties," said Dolan in a statement. "The officers involved yesterday exhibited great restraint and professionalism throughout the events of the day. While I understand these are challenging times for the members of the board, I must insist that they not physically place themselves among demonstrators who are being actively engaged by officers taking police action."

Tuesday's protest lead to the arrest of 16 people inside the board meeting.

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