Dual community meetings on racial profiling point to friction - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Dual community meetings on racial profiling point to friction

Updated:
NAACP's Danatus King and Robert Goodman of Safe Streets discuss meetings. NAACP's Danatus King and Robert Goodman of Safe Streets discuss meetings.

New Orleans, La. — Two meetings on racial profiling concerns are planned for Monday evening.

One is hosted by Mayor Mitch Landrieu at the First Emmanuel Baptist Church on Carondelet Street and the other is hosted by community and civil rights activists at the Christian Unity Baptist Church on Conti Street, just off Claiborne Avenue.

"He had no intentions of having a meeting and so since we made the call, we're the ones that slept on the ground and we came into his office on last Tuesday and he said he would get back with us on a date, but he never got back with us," said Robert Goodman of the group Safe Streets/Strong Communities.

He and others who pressed Mayor Landrieu to hold a community forum to hear concerns about alleged racial profiling by NOPD officers are incensed that Landrieu is holding a meeting Monday evening at the same time they are holding a meeting on the topic.

"Racial profiling is an evil that affects all of us," said Danatus King of the New Orleans chapter of the NAACP.

Landrieu's communication director, Ryan Berni, said the mayor's meeting will focus on ongoing police department reforms, concerns about racial profiling, and the fight to reduce violence citywide.

"That meeting was set in response to a request from the local NAACP. Earlier last week, Mayor Landrieu met with members of the local NAACP to hear their concerns, at which time they asked him to host a community meeting to discuss racial profiling one night at 6:00 p.m. in the next two weeks," Berni said in an email.

But King said they only learned about the meeting through a press release from City Hall. They said they wanted the mayor to host a forum focusing solely on racial profiling.

"The community is focusing on racial profiling and that's the purpose of the meeting," King said.

"It's really up to the mayor to come to us, who really called for this meeting, rather than keep diverting and going in another direction," added Goodman.

University of New Orleans political scientist Ed Chervenak said there are a lot of tensions at work.

"This is an issue that dogs a lot of police departments. [NOPD Superintendent Ronal] Serpas wants to collect data on people that the police stop and frisk to get an idea of who exactly they're stopping.  They put it in a database and to identify potential criminals.  But civil rights groups look at this as a way to target minority individuals, primarily African-American males," stated Chervenak.

While King and Goodman say they want the community at large to pack their meeting, they acknowledge they did not invite the police chief, and said it is the mayor they want to talk to in a public forum.

"We didn't invite Chief Serpas because the mayor is Chief Serpas' boss, the buck stops on the second floor of City Hall," said King.

"A lot of the animosity is directed towards Chief Serpas.  Most of the criticism of the mayor is indirect because of his appointment of Chief Serpas," said Chervenak.

Both meetings were scheduled for 6:00 p.m.

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