Black Lives Matter Charleston organizer Muhiyidin d'Baha
Black Lives Matter Charleston organizer Muhiyidin d’Baha was arrested Thursday evening after interrupting a North Charleston Public Safety Committee meeting. While committee members had gathered to discuss several zoning issues, d’Baha spoke out at the end of the meeting to call for more oversight of the North Charleston Police Department in the form of a citizens’ review board with subpoena powers.
The local activist was led from the meeting at North Charleston City Hall by police and charged with disorderly conduct. Upon his release on bond Thursday evening, d’Baha addressed supporters outside of the Al Cannon Detention Center.
“We’ve been asking for a citizens’ review board, and if nothing else, the opportunity to address council in a way where we can have well-thought-out discussion about what a citizens’ review board is and what it would mean to the city of North Charleston,” said d’Baha in a video posted to the Black Lives Matter Charleston Facebook page.
Last month, the North Charleston Police Department held a series of public meetings to gather input on the creation of a Citizens’ Advisory Commission on Community Relations. According to the draft proposal for establishing the commission, the group will evaluate police relations with the community and suggest changes to department policy and training. The proposal also states that members of the group will come from the city’s Community and Police Panel created in 2008, as well as recommendations by City Council, the mayor, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, and the chief of police. Members must be residents of North Charleston, have no record of felony convictions, no more than one misdemeanor conviction, and no outstanding warrants.
In a video posted online after his release, d’Baha criticized the proposed plan for the commission, saying it lacked investigatory and disciplinary powers. According to d’Baha, he and other citizens intend to form their own independent board, which will review alleged complaints against individual officers that they have requested through the Freedom of Information Act.
“When we protest and when we come out, we will come out with officers’ names and badge numbers on our signs,” he said, “laser sharp, pointed to actually have oversight to make sure officers feel and are held accountable for their actions within our community.”