Memorial poster created by the organizers of the New Orleans Comic and Zine Festival.

Racial Justice Coalition Weighs in on Jai Williams Case

Memorial poster created by  the organizers of the New Orleans  Comic and Zine Festival.
Memorial poster created by
the organizers of the New Orleans
Comic and Zine Festival.

On Tuesday, July 5, 2016, representatives from the Racial Justice Coalition (RJC), Asheville-Buncombe Branch of the NAACP, Stop the Violence Coalition, Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (IMA) Baptist Ministers’ Union, Christians for a United Community (CUC), and the Residents Council of Asheville Housing Authority met with Asheville Police Department Chief Tammy Hooper and members of APD to discuss the tragedy that took place at the Deaverview Apartments, July 2, 2016, resulting in the death of Jai Lateef Soleig Williams.

Chief Hooper and her staff provided a thorough account and overview of the officer-involved shooting, along with an update on the ongoing investigation of Saturday’s events. The State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) is now handling this case, and it is likely to take several months before the SBI submits their report to District Attorney Todd Williams (no relation to the victim), who has pledged to conduct a full and fair review of the investigation. APD will also conduct an administrative inquiry that includes a review of policies and procedures.

While we are encouraged by the willingness of Chief Hooper to quickly meet with these respective groups and the level of transparency APD has provided, the Racial Justice Coalition will continue to work closely with APD to ensure truth and accountability emerges from this investigation.

Over the past 18 months the RJC has worked with both the APD and Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office to take steps toward building trust and relationships through ongoing and open dialogue. This foundation allows the community to react and communicate more calmly when a tragedy like this occurs. The RJC’s vision is to continue to work with community organizations and law enforcement to become a national model for best practices and to improve police-community relations in Asheville-Buncombe.

The Racial Justice Coalition includes representatives of organizations in Asheville and Buncombe County dedicated to racial justice. The RJC comes together in commitment to racial equity and to advocate for the rights of people of color.

The RJC includes: ACLU of WNC, ABIPA, Asheville-Buncombe Branch of the NAACP, Asheville City Schools Foundation, Building Bridges of Asheville, Carolina Jews for Justice/West, Center for Diversity Education at UNC-Asheville, Christians for a United Community, Democracy North Carolina, Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation, Elders Fierce for Justice, Mountain People’s Assembly, and YWCA of Asheville and WNC.

Local NAACP – Carmen Ramos-Kennedy is the President of the Asheville-Buncombe County NAACP Branch #5363. For questions and membership information, contact the Asheville Buncombe NAACP, PO Box 2881, Asheville, NC 28802.

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