The steps the town of Chapel Hill has taken to investigate Charles Brown’s allegation of racial profiling proves that it understands the severity of such allegations.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People recognizes this. And it should argue the town’s report on its merits, rather than reflexively dismiss it.
The report — written by Police Chief Brian Curran — details the results of the town’s investigation into the detention of Charles Brown, which the NAACP claims was racially motivated.
It provides a measured response that contrasts sharply with the hyperbolic, emotional language used by the NAACP in its complaint to the town.
The report shows that Brown looks similar to Cumun Fearrington, the man for whom police mistook Charles Brown on June 1.
And audio recordings clock the time of the encounter at 16 minutes. The NAACP alleged it lasted “almost an hour.”
Michelle Cotton Laws, president of the Chapel Hill/Carrboro branch of the NAACP, said the town’s report was “tainted with bias from the start.”
Internal investigations deserve scrutiny because they are conducted by the organization in question. But they do not deserve to be dismissed out of hand.
Assuming racism in Brown’s detainment and bias in the town’s report as foregone conclusions is no way to make progress on this issue.
The report also gives two suggestions to provide greater accountability in the future: All patrol cars should have videos to document incident, and incident reports should be written whenever similar detentions occur.
While Laws agreed with the suggestions, she said the larger issue is the fact that the report does not rectify the fact that she feels Brown was racially profiled.
“This is by no way a dead issue, in any way, shape or form,” she said.
Brown and the NAACP are free to disagree with the report. But if they choose to dissent, they need to counter the town’s well-reasoned report with sound evidence — not hyperbole.
Race is a sensitive and polarizing issue. The town appears to be trying to address it calmly and rationally. The NAACP should follow suit.
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