Police chief, NAACP president make joint statement

Published 12:20 am Wednesday, June 3, 2020

SALISBURY — In a video posted online Tuesday, Police Chief Jerry Stokes and Salisbury-Rowan NAACP President Gemale Black encouraged people to be measured and lawful in protesting in the city.

The video came as Mayor Karen Alexander declared a state of emergency in the downtown area as well as a curfew within an area known as the municipal service district — the officially designated boundaries of downtown after a small group of people escalated a protest on Monday night and a man fired a gun in the air during a protest one day earlier.

“The Salisbury Police Department is a community oriented agency who respects the rights and freedom of all our citizens,” Stokes started. “We are committed to allowing the constitutional right to speak and assemble and do not take this responsibility lightly.”

Black encouraged people to respect property and people. Otherwise, “this isn’t going to be a sprint; it’s going to be a marathon.”

“We need to be measured in how we do things,” he said.

Stokes said he was demanding that protesters act lawfully and that people would not be allowed to be in the street uninhibited. And he said that no one will be allowed to carrying a weapon at a protest.

“Such actions are a violation of state law and will not be tolerated,” he said.

Black ended by saying he believes Salisbury is working together to address injustice.