Activists disrupt Raleigh City Council meeting to call for police reforms

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Demonstrators arrived at Raleigh City Hall Tuesday night long past impatient and fed up with polite conversations about how to achieve a better relationship between police and the community.

For many of them, the Soheil Mojarrad case was the final straw in this push for police accountability. So, they came not asking, but demanding tougher reforms.

"Time is up for dialogue, for reports, for work sessions, for studies, for feedback, for public hearings. Time's been up," a woman shouted from the audience in council chambers.

It was part of a 10-minute long disruption at the raucous meeting, that went into recess when Mayor Pro-Tem Corey Branch could not gain control.

The meeting comes after three years of discussions between community advocates and city leaders following several high profile police-involved shootings.

Rolanda Byrd addressed the council Tuesday night, almost three years after her son, Akiel Denkins was shot and killed by a Raleigh Police officer.

Byrd embraced Judy Mojarrad in a signal of unity in their call for more police accountability following last month's police-involved shooting of Mojarrad's 30-year old son, Soheil, outside a Raleigh shopping center.

Byrd and other members of her advocacy group, Raleigh PACT, then laid out their demands to city councilors: mandatory crisis intervention training for officers in dealing with people with mental illness, a community oversight board with subpoena power and police body cameras that activate automatically when an officer draws their weapon.

Officer W.B. Edwards body cam did not activate that night when Mojarrad, who police say was armed with a knife and suspected of stealing a cell phone, was shot and killed.

"If we want our city to move away from stigmatizing where we can have trust in our community leaders, our city council, and our police chief, we must hold our police officers accountable," said Greear Webb, an 18-year-old community organizer with Young Americans Protest and NC Town Hall.

The activists demanded a yes or no answer from each city councilor.

Would they support a community oversight board?

"We're no longer here asking what you're gonna do. I need answers about what is gonna happen," said PACT's Surena Johnson.

At least three city council members said they do see a need for a community oversight board. The others would not commit without more information.
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