The Chapel Hill Police Department and the Town of Chapel Hill should complete and release their internal reviews of the Charles Brown incident.
As long as these reviews are pending, there can be no real resolution to the question of whether Brown’s detention was racial profiling. And it’s unclear why the investigation has taken so long.
Brown was mistakenly detained by Chapel Hill police for about 40 minutes on June 1.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People then became involved. The organization filed a complaint on behalf of Brown on Aug. 10, suggesting that racist motivations led to Brown’s detention.
The complaint asked for a written response from Mayor Kevin Foy, meetings with city organizations and a civilian review board to study complaints lodged against police.
The town’s response thus far reflects a welcome desire to work with the NAACP. But the town has not indicated whether it will take action to create a civilian review board.
In a Sept. 8 letter to Michelle Laws, Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP president, Foy assured her that there is an ongoing investigation through the town manager.
Foy did not comment on the details of the investigation in his letter.
But it’s imperative that there soon be full disclosure on its conclusions.
A desire to work with Brown and the NAACP is a good start. But the community needs all the information before the case can be objectively evaluated.
This is a contentious issue, and the allegations that the NAACP is making are very serious — racial profiling, detention without probable cause and public humiliation.
But the absence of conclusive investigations, especially an internal investigation by the police, precludes further progress — regardless of the merits of the NAACP’s claims.
Alan McSurely, Brown’s attorney, has stated that he is willing to sue to make a statement if need be. And he has every right to do so.
But lawsuits are a bitterly divisive and undesirable way to settle an issue. Productive dialogue is certainly preferred.
And hopefully, full disclosure and open dialogue will allow for a compromise that will leave everyone satisfied.
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