The Struggle for Real Democracy in Greensboro’s Segregated Jim Crow School System of 1969
A&T/Dudley Revolt 50th Anniversary Commemoration
Reflections by Rev. Nelson Johnson
SOBU Letter Penned by Rev. Nelson Johnson
Diagram: Interrelated Circles of the Black Community
From the Justice for Marcus Smith Coalition
The Greensboro Pulpit Forum and
The Beloved Community Center
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10, 2019
Click HERE to watch the press conference.
Today, 4/10/19, nationally prominent civil rights attorney Flint Taylor, of the People’s Law Office of Chicago, and Greensboro Attorney Graham Holt filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Greensboro, eight individual police officers, Guilford County, and two of its paramedics. The case was filed in Federal District Court in Greensboro. The lawsuit stems from the death of Marcus Smith on September 8, 2018 after he was hogtied by police officers. The NC Medical Examiner ruled the manner of death to be homicide. The plaintiffs are the parents of Marcus Smith, Mary and George Smith.
Both attorneys spoke at a press conference held at Bethel AME Church in Greensboro at noon Wednesday April 10. The complaint alleges: “The defendant Greensboro Police Officers caused Marcus’ death by brutally restraining him prone on the ground and hogtying him like an animal until he stopped breathing, and the Defendant Guilford County EMS Paramedics, who were called to the scene, failed to intervene to protect Marcus from the use of unreasonable force and failed to promptly attend to his serious medical needs.”
Attorney Taylor noted: “It is significant that we have alleged that the City of Greensboro has condoned, permitted, and acquiesced in a pattern of excessive and unreasonable use of force by its police department. Marcus’ death is a recent example of the failure of leadership and lack of accountability. We hope this lawsuit will redress this injustice and give Greensboro a chance to be a model for fundamental change.”
Attorney Holt added: “For years now I have had clients who, with the help of a wide-range of community members and leaders, have urged and pleaded with City Council, Chief Scott, and the County Manager to intervene and halt this pattern of police abuse and misconduct. But they have turned a blind eye and deaf ear.
Mary Smith, mother of the deceased, spoke as well, stating, “We have been demanding justice for our son since we found out what truly happened to him. We buried him believing a lie that the Greensboro Police told us – that he was “combative”, “suicidal” and that he had “collapsed”. It wasn’t until members of our family travelled up here to watch the body cam footage that we found out what truly happened to him. He was hogtied by the police, and no one had the sense or training to intervene. Our Son died because of their actions, and our family’s grief has only grown as we learned that the police, the chief, and the City of Greensboro have all worked together to try and cover up this incident that should have never happened in the first place. Our son was a beloved member of our family, and he was loved by many in Greensboro. The City of Greensboro took him away from us, and we don’t know how many more families have lost their sons and daughters to this kind of police violence. We’ve learned that Greensboro has a long history of racist police violence. But we hope that this lawsuit can shed light onto the culture of violence that persists in the Greensboro Police Department and that hopefully it will cause a change, so this doesn’t happen to anyone again. Marcus didn’t need to die, but we pray he didn’t die in vain. Let’s demand justice and accountability in Greensboro.”
On March 28, the Pulpit Forum, an association of mainly African American Ministers in Greensboro, together with the local and state NAACP and the Beloved Community Center, delivered a letter to Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan, all City Council Members and City Manager David Parrish with six specific demands. The letter alleges a long pattern and practice of police abuse of power. Dr. Daran Mitchell President of the Pulpit Forum further noted that, “Most disturbing in this pattern and practice has been the active role played by our elected city Council of objectively participating in covering-up the misconduct and ignoring the credible pleas from a broad range of community groups, especially those most negatively impacted”
The three groups called on the City Council to conduct an independent investigation of this pattern and practice of which the homicide of Marcus Smith is the most recent example.
Marcus Hyde, an organizer with the Homeless Union of Greensboro, who have been working with the family to seek justice in this case stated, “The Marcus Smith case touches home for many in the homeless community, as Marcus was well known and loved in the community. But we know that until we get to the bottom of how this happened, that it’s likely to happen again. Residents of Greensboro are not safe if officers feel they can target poor, homeless and black people, violate their own policy, endanger their lives, and then expect the Chief of Police and the entire city government to have their backs when someone dies as a result. We’re thankful for the attorney’s joining this case, and we know this is just the beginning of a process that has to occur to change the way the residents of Greensboro, the City Government and it’s police relate to one another.”
Rev. Nelson Johnson Co-director of the Beloved Community Center and a survivor of the 1979 Greensboro Massacre in which five people were killed and ten other wounded and a low income African American Community terrorized by KKK, Nazis and objectively aided by the Greensboro police (the Klan, Nazis and Greensboro were found jointly liable for wrongful death) said, “the whole community is coming together around the issue of abuse of police power. As difficult as it is, the real enduring solution is for the community and elected City official to work together. We the people of Greensboro have the duty, responsibility and authority to direct our Mayor and City Council to conduct a community based investigation so that this city can solve this long standing problem and begin to live into a new era of real justice, peace, equity.”
For more information, Contact Att. Graham Holt or Att. Flint Taylor at 773-616-3736.
- What If, the evidence shows that our brother, Marcus Deon Smith died as a result of hogtieing and police abuse and/or negligence which would make this a homicide case?
- What if, the City Council members are manipulated and misled into denouncing and demonizing those who are seeking real justice, not just pacification?
- What if, the City Council tries to settle the case with money “only” without addressing the underlying historical policies, systems and culture of unjust policing in Greensboro?
These “what ifs” are not empty questions. There is a pattern and practice of police abuse and cover up of many, many, cases over the years. Perhaps the Marcus Smith case can break the pattern. That would mean that his death was not in vain. Let’s pray together and stay together and build the people’s power together to honor Marcus Deon Smith’s life and to lead our city into a new era of justice, peace, and healing for all. Let’s move forward together!
Important Community Meeting
Monday, Dec. 3rd, 6:30 PM, Shiloh Baptist Church, 1210 South Eugene St.
Come. Lift Your Voice. Listen to Your Neighbors
The NC Constitution states:
“That all political power is vested in and derived from the people only…”.
All Come! It is so important that you and all your friends come out on Monday night.
Monday, Dec. 3rd, 2018, 6:30 pm, Shiloh Baptist Church, 1210 South Eugene St.
Our Constitution grants that all power is in the hands of “the people.”
We must use our power to compel our Police and City Council to do the right thing.
Fact: The police body camera showed that Marcus Smith died while in police custody shortly after he was hogtied.
Initial Police Response: Marcus Smith was suicidal. He collapsed and died. After public exposure, the police adjusted their story to acknowledge that Marcus was hogtied but still determined that no laws or policies were violated.
Greensboro Police Policy: “At no time shall the wrists and ankles of an arrestee be linked together using RIPPHOBBLE restraining devise, unless the arrestee can be seated in an upright position or on their side. If this is done, the knees of the arrestee will not be bent more than 90 degrees (unless extenuating circumstances exist) to prevent stress being placed on the arrestee’s chest muscles or diaphragm which might contribute to a positional asphyxia situation.”
Fact: Marcus Smith was taken to the ground by police and put on his stomach (chest-diaphragm) and died there. Also, the police did not inform the coroner that Marcus was hog-tied.
This flyer was developed and circulated by the Beloved Community Center (BCC). We can be reached at 336-230-0001 orinfo@belovedcommunitycenter.
We congratulate BCC member Rev. Wesley J. Morris for his installation as Pastor of the Faith Community Church
13 local groups release their statements about conduct and accountability of members of the Greensboro Police Department
In a press conference held at BCC on Tuesday, October 23rd, 13 groups released their statements expressing the reason for filing an amicus brief that “advise the court of relevant, additional information or arguments that the court might wish to consider” in Zared Jone’s case (read about the case here). The City has requested for and extension for the deadline for the filing of the amicus brief date in order to make additional preparations. Click here to read the letter sent to Mayor Vaughn and the City Council requesting their Support Group of the City Council’s Appeal of the Zared Jones Related Gag Order.
Here are the three main points addressed in the press conference:
1. The 13 groups (see list below), whose complete statements can be read here, will be filing an amicus brief in the NC Court of Appeals in support of the City of Greensboro’s appeal of the gag order banning them from publicly discussing the contents of police body camera recordings of the Zared Jones incident (read about the case here). We commend Council for making this appeal. When public officials, elected by the people, are prevented from speaking out on serious matters of public interest, our rights as citizens are unjustly curtailed.
2. While supporting the City’s appeal, these groups call on city council to watch the entire set of police recordings and take appropriate action NOW. While the appeal may take one to two years to be resolved, the Greensboro City Council currently has both the authority, based upon court order, and the duty, based upon their responsibility to the citizens, to watch the police recordings right NOW. Police misconduct, if found, must be investigated and all those responsible held accountable NOW. These 13 groups will release to the public their letter previously sent to each city council member making the request for them to view the recordings and act NOW. We are asking for a specific response from City Council to that letter.
3. Graham Holt, attorney for Zared Jones, has been authorized by court order to view the entire set of police recordings and has done so. He has sent a confidential letter, confidential only because of the gag order, to City Council detailing specific issues of police misconduct reflected in those police recordings. Attorney Holt was present to comment, within the limits of the law, on that letter and the concern that Council is exhibiting a deliberate indifference to the rights of his clients and others by failing to watch the entire set of police recordings and act NOW.
STRUGGLE FOR POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY IN RELATION TO ZARED JONES’ CASE MEETING
MONDAY NOVEMBER 12th
Shiloh Baptist Church – 1210 S Eugene St, Greensboro, at 7 pm
List of the 13 local groups:
1.) Beloved Community Center of Greensboro
2.) Community Play! All Stars Alliance
3.) The Homeless Union of Greensboro
4.) Democracy Greensboro
5.) The Professors of Reclaiming Democracy
6.) Triad City Beat
7.) The Pulpit Forum
8.) The Guilford Anti-Racism Alliance (GARA)
9.) UNCG Faculty Members
10.) League of Women Voters of the Piedmont Triad (LWVPT)
11.) Carolina Peacemaker
12.) St. Barnabas Episcopal Church
Beloved Network “Voter Check-in Meeting”
Saturday, October 27th, 10 am – 11 am at BCC – 417 Arlington St.
NEW VOTER GUIDES ARE AVAILABLE!
Can be picked up Monday-Friday at BCC from 10am-5pm or by appointment by calling 336-230-0001.
Let’s continue to learn, cooperate, unite, and support each other’s efforts to mover our city, state, and nation forward.
Activities and events shared our Voter Check-in Meetings are listed below. Let’s support and encourage each other!
1) March for Our Lives (high school students & others)
Oct. 23rd – Candidate Townhall
Oct. 28th – Parkland High School Students in Greensboro, Place & Time :TBD
2) Working America & BCC
Oct. 17th, 4pm – 7pm Party at the Polls
Oct. 28th, 12pm-5pm – Souls to the Polls,
Location: Craft Center 3911 Yanceyville St.
3) UNC TV
Oct. 23rd 6pm -Town Hall
Location: NC A&T
All Beloved Voter Network “Check-in Meetings” are on Saturday’s, 10-11am at 417 Arlington Street, Greensboro, NC 27406. The next meeting is Saturday, October 27th.
Note: ” The Beloved Network” is a volunteer network of individuals, groups, and organizations convened to better grow and coordinate our community work, especially GOTV work during this electoral season.
Distributed by the Beloved Community Center (BCC): For more information on how to connect with us or other groups doing this work contact us at 336-230-0001 or e-mail us at: info@belovedcommunitycenter.
Hurricane Florence Relief Efforts
Our hearts go out to those who were affected by hurricane Florence. Various organizations in NC have partnered together to recover supplies and donations to help out the damaged communities in eastern NC.
Poor People’s Campaign Relief Efforts: https://www.facebook.com/
…we each commented on the tremendous inspiration and deep impact of our time at BCC. The Johnson name was lifted constantly as a beacon for the Work and for us, the workers. Blessings on your ministry of faith and healing. We’re carrying you in our hearts all across the country and honor you in our journey.