Fayetteville's Black community calls for change in police culture in wake of Tyre Nichols' death

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Friday, January 27, 2023
Fayetteville's Black community calls for change in police culture
With another Black man killed by police officers, Fayetteville leaders are speaking up about needed policing reforms.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- With another Black man killed by police officers making headlines across the country, Fayetteville leaders are speaking up about changes that need to happen immediately.

Some leaders within Fayetteville Police Department have been saying for a while now that police training the pushes back against or all out avoids the use of excessive force needs major improvement.

Kathy Greggs with Fayetteville Police Accountability Community Taskforce (P.A.C.T), a group dedicated to bringing about systemic changes in police policies and accountability, acknowledges Fayetteville Police Department has made some gains by implementing trainings on racism, diversity and inclusion back in 2019. However, she notes it is important that aspiring officers be asked more critical questions about their outlook on the communities they're policing.

"When they are going to do this into neighborhoods, how do they (the people in the neighborhoods) feel about that? How do you feel about training in neighborhoods to see how the people feel when you come in there with these SWAT vehicles with SWAT gear," Greggs suggests.

WATCH | Activists say indictments are a start, but not the same as convictions in Tyre Nichols' death

"You see chiefs in communities around the country, are no longer tolerating police misconduct. They want communities to be safe," Gerald Givens, president of the Raleigh-Apex chapter of the NAACP, said.

Greggs also thinks qualified immunity needs to end. That's a legal principle in the United States that makes it very difficult from victims of police violence and misconduct to win civil lawsuits against officers.

Qualified immunity is a court-created rule that limits victims of police violence and misconduct from holding officers accountable when they violate a person's constitutional rights.

Another thing Gregg wants to see more of: scrutiny of leadership at police departments.

"We have to ask ourselves, are we hiring toxic leaders to actually impel this type of culture inside the police force," she said.

WATCH | Former Durham Police Chief says video of Tyre Nichols' traffic stop left her 'horrified,' 'disgusted'

Cerelyn Davis spoke to "GMA" about the charges filed against five former members of the Memphis Police Department after Tyre Nichols died after a traffic stop.

Meanwhile, activist Shaun McMillan argues that cases of police brutality aren't the result of poor training but of a violent culture deeply embedded in the force.

"For generations, we've had police forces, especially in Jim Crow South go unchecked," he said. "We've elected Black officials and thought that things were going to change, but the structures were still in place and they're still as fiercely protected as they were years ago."

The officers accused of beating Tyre NIchols to death are all Black. No matter the race of the officers or the victim, Fayetteville NAACP Chapter Vice President Miguel Rodriguez said brutality is unacceptable.

"I'm Hispanic, and it wouldn't be any different if it was a Hispanic on Hispanic. The fact is, we're all human beings. We're all created in the image of God and we ought not do that to anyone else."