Justice Ministry and city officials remain at odds over forum

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At the 2014 Nehemiah Action, faith leaders asked public officials to commit to specific policies regarding hiring and school discipline. - JONATHAN BONCEK FILE PHOTO
  • Jonathan Boncek file photo
  • At the 2014 Nehemiah Action, faith leaders asked public officials to commit to specific policies regarding hiring and school discipline.
Members of the Charleston Area Justice Ministry (CAJM) appeared before North Charleston City Council Thursday, calling on the mayor and city officials to attend the interfaith organization’s upcoming meeting to discuss policing practices.

According to CAJM, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and several Charleston City Council members, as well as North Charleston Council members Virginia Jamison and Michael Brown, have agreed to participate in the Nehemiah Action Assembly taking place Monday at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in North Charleston. Of the 29 congregations and organizations listed as CAJM members in a document provided by the group, five are located in North Charleston.

Citing past incidents of “bullying tactics” from CAJM members, both North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and Police Chief Eddie Driggers have said they will not be attending Monday’s meeting, which is set to draw an estimated 2,300 people. On March 22, Chief Driggers, Mayor Summey, and city staff met with CAJM members to discuss the group’s methods and local police practices, but the events of that meeting have developed into a dispute on both sides.

North Charleston spokesman Ryan Johnson said the discussion ended in a “complete rebuke of North Charleston public officials and chastising of the entire police department,” but justice ministry members present at the discussion disagree.

During a press conference held Thursday in front of North Charleston City Hall, CAJM member Kris Westerson claimed that the way in which the city has represented the March 22 meeting was “inaccurate” and “intentionally deceitful.” According to Westerson, the group commended the police chief for the reduction in the number of public contacts with no citation or arrest by the North Charleston police and called for a written policy to be implemented regarding these types of stops. 


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