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Seven Greensboro Residents Arrested During “People’s Document Search” Attempting to Seize & Release Investigative Files

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Dejuan Yourse also spoke to his supporters, vowing to

“stay on top of these people so this stuff never happens again”

GREENSBORO – Today seven Greensboro residents were arrested attempting to conduct a “People’s Document Search” in the reception area of City Council’s offices, on the second floor of the Melvin Municipal Building. Statements by all seven are included below. They were charged with second-degree trespassing, and according to the city attorney are soon to be cited and released from the county jail.

GSO Operation Transparency leaders were disappointed city officials chose repression over transparency, but expressed confidence their efforts would be rewarded – with greater confidence in each other, rather than in elected officials. Said Isabell Moore, “We now know more than we did before. Before today, we knew six councilmembers were unwilling even to review the files we’re asking for. We now know the City Council would rather have their employees, including the City Manager and Chief of Police, arrest their own constituents, rather than release information that could put to rest serious questions of trust and transparency that have been raised by this incident. We tried to go through official channels – even news organizations have asked for release of the files – but sometimes those channels fail us, and it’s up to us to act, rather than continue waiting on our elected representatives.”

“We know we have more work to do, to make our City Council live up to what we need from them in this moment. We need a Council that will be fearless, that won’t hide behind their City Manager, that won’t try to dodge our questions with ‘there was no coverup’, and that will take the time to examine whether the police can really police themselves with guidelines and structures that exist today, and whether the rules on use of force need to be rewritten. What happened to Dejuan Yourse was an assault not just on him, but on the safety of every Greensboro resident. No one should have to fear the police we pay to protect us, but we’ve got a long way to go before all Greensboro residents can call on them for protection. We know even more after today, we can’t wait for City Council to make that happen. Dozens of people have attended meetings, trainings and public actions in the last four weeks just to win release of the investigative files. We look forward to welcoming even more into the movement for a safer, more transparent, more just city.”

Afterwards, gathered with supporters outside, Dejuan Yourse addressed several dozen people, thanking them for supporting him, and stating, “We’re going to get through it the best way we know how, not going to let this situation go to waste… we’re going to stay on top of these people so this stuff never happens again” (VIDEO HERE).

Statements for the seven arrested follow:

Lamar Gibson: As a lifetime Greensboro resident, who has worked to build better relationships between the police and the people they’re supposed to protect, I know how dangerous it is for us to go back on the progress that has been made. City Council must do its job and release the files to ensure that the processed worked. Nationally, a new administration that promises to roll back the smallest gains we’ve made in recent years is a threat to communities everywhere and we must be an example of transparency and progressive thinking.

Nego Crosson: Civil disobedience is a tool. It’s a way to dramatize how far the government, in this case, the city, will go to maintain its authority over and above any other concern raised by the public.  Racist police violence is not new, but there is a new level of awareness of it in mainstream white America. I think its a crucial time to push back against the tired message that the police are the best suited entity to monitor the police.  Absorbing the inconvenience of a minor arrest is the least I can do.

CJ Brinson: The City of Greensboro has a history of protecting a culture of police violence that is imposed on people of color. Ranging from the 1979 Greensboro massacre, up to the Devon and Rufus Scales’ case. The fact that seven of our local officials voted to maintain secrecy from the public, speaks to the lack of courage that our local elected officials have succumb to. It also informs us that in 2017, here in Greensboro, democracy is dead. Therefore it is time for us to stand together to fight against this treatment, hold the police department accountable, and demand that the City Council finally do what is right for the people and release the file.

Juan Miranda:  As a young person committed to equality and social justice it is my duty to do everything in my power to ensure that elected officials in my city answer to our communities when trust is broken. Transparency and accountability are essentials in a democratic society. The Cole-Yourse investigation raises many questions about the processes in place to ensure that local law enforcement is being held accountable.  Moreover, the refusal to release the files requested by journalists, activists, and community members demonstrates a lack of interest from city officials to be transparent and build trust with the broader community.

Sofia Tull: I’m risking arrest because Black Lives Matter. Anti-racist white people need to use our power that comes with white privilege to serve the Black and Brown leadership working on the cultural shifts needed to dismantle white supremacy/systemic racism. #BLMGateCityTaughtMe

Sabina Nogo: Coincidentally, in honor and remembrance of the recent Martin Luther King Jr. Day, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I believe we have to move beyond celebrating progress, civil rights and justice as a day off from school or work or a day of community service, toward make each day a day of action in working toward liberation and justice, first in our own communities. I’m standing in solidarity with victims of state violence, its iteration in my with the murder of Dejuan Yourse, and demanding accountability from elected officials of Greensboro.

Gary Kenton: Why would a semi-retired, middle-class, white, grandfather be willing to risk arrest?  Because my elected representatives are hiding information to which I am entitled.  Because I have lost confidence in City Council members to monitor and regulate the police department.  Because democracy demands that citizens stand up for the values of transparency and accountability.

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GSO Operation Transparency is a multiracial, multigenerational group of Greensboro residents concerned about the lack of transparency and accountability in recent incidents that have transpired with police officials, City Council members and other city staff, and how that might damage the integrity of overall public safety and public trust in government agencies.

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