Justice rally organizers to meet with city officials
By Jessie Burchette
email@example.comOrganizers of a Rally for Justice say they will meet with top city of Salisbury officials this morning to ask for justice for blacks.
John C. Barnette, the head of a civil rights organization based in Gastonia, said if city officials don’t act to satisfy their concerns, the next step could be direct action, including marches.
Barnette cited the Aug. 28 brawl at the La Bamba Club on Klumac Road where a black police officer was recorded on video hitting a black man and later choking a black woman. Off-duty police were on duty in the parking lot and dealt with a fight that spilled over inside the club where private security was unable to deal with the situation.
He called the video from La Bamba “very troubling,” saying that he has seen footage of the club incident that hasn’t been released to the public.
Barnette also cited an instance where he said a black employee of the city had been unfairly terminated.
He also announced plans to attend the funeral of Elbert Leon “Trey” Chambers III, Tuesday afternoon. Chambers was killed in a shooting last week. His brother, Bobby Chambers, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.
He emphasized that he was not threatening the city in order to get Officer Kareem Puranda fired over the La Bamba incident, but he said if negotiations fail, the next step will be direct action.
Puranda has been placed on paid administrative leave pending completion of an SBI investigation of the incident and recordings.
As an example of the type of direct action his group might take, Barnette cited a march of 500 or more that he led in a South Carolina town.
Salisbury Police Chief Mark Wilhelm said he will be attending the meeting today. Wilhelm said he is willing to listen and if something needs to be fixed, “if officers have acted inappropriately, I will do what I need to.”
Wilhelm added that he can’t make a judgment until the SBI investigation of the incident is completed.
During the press conference, Barnette also praised police, saying they have the toughest job in America, and called for a return to the days that police and communities interact.
He also pointed to the abundance of cell phones and the capability of recording “wrongful acts” by police.
“Police and grandma are scared of the young hip-hop generation,” he said.
The rally for justice will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at Trinity Presbyterian Church.
The Rev. Olen Bruner, pastor, said the doors will be open Thursday at 6 p.m. He noted that city officials have been invited to attend.
Barnette heads an organization called True Healing Under God, using the acronym THUG.
During a press conference Tuesday morning at the church, Barnette repeatedly referred to the impact Hip Hop music is having on kids, from wearing their pants below their hips to carrying guns.
Barnette cited an instance recently where he asked a young man who the vice president is. Barnette said the youngster had no idea who the the vice president was, yet was very up to date on the rapper 50 Cent and how much money such celebrities make.