On Tuesday, April 18, the City Council met in the Council Chamber in the Melvin Municipal Building in Downtown Greensboro.
Among the topics discussed at the meeting were public commentary, largely surrounding the Jose Charles case, the passing of an ordinance establishing original zoning and rezoning for a upcoming self-storage facility on Gate City Blvd., and a postponed motion for a resolution authorizing the conveyance of surplus foreclosure for property at 1322 Bothwell St.
Many gathered at the City Council meeting to advocate for the Jose Charles’s case. Charles, 15 at the time of his arrest, was arrested at the Fun Fourth Festival at Center City Park. Charles was reportedly attacked by a group of kids at the event, and then taken in by an officer.
Charles has been charged with malicious assault of an officer, disorderly conduct, simple affray and resisting arrest.
According to the News & Observer and many of those who spoke during the public comments, Charles has been accused of spitting blood in an officer’s face. To this, the crowd at Tuesday’s meeting rapidity stated, “Coughing is not a crime,” followed by echoed coughing.
Those who spoke on Jose Charles’s behalf asked that the City Council take action in viewing the police body camera footage, and instruct that the evidence be withdrawn from the case, as they attested the City Council had done for previous cases.
The public comment speakers also gave the Council an ultimatum that if the they did not take action to protect Charles by May 2, then the public would.
“There are a majority of us who are deeply, deeply committed and concerned about this young man, and about what happened and the image of our city,” Mayor Pro-Tem Yvonne Johnson explained, speaking on her own behalf. “I would like to see this resolved in a way that is not a win-lose situation, but a situation that would be positive for this young man and for the city of Greensboro.”
The City Council has been allowed access to the police-camera-footage with a gag order, instructing that it cannot be discussed with the public.
“It’s very unfortunate what the court did to us the other day by putting a gag order on us after we see the video,” Councilwoman Sharon Hightower (District 1) stated. “That destroys transparency.”
Mayor Nancy Vaughan told the council that she believed the video was prohibited from being released to the public due to Charles’s age.
Additionally, from Tuesday’s agenda, the City Council passed ordinance establishing original zoning and rezoning for an upcoming self-storage facility on Gate City Blvd.
The multi-story, self-storage unit requesting the ordinance explained that the business had a positive meeting with the local residents, and hoped that their business could additionally improve the drainage issue in the area.
A representative from Life Storage down the road protested the business approval, stating that it would hurt their business. It was also established that the median on Gate City Blvd. would negatively impact both businesses on the road, preventing the public from easy access to their facilities.
The resolution authorizing the conveyance of surplus foreclosure property at 1322 Bothwell St, which was postponed from the March 21 City Council meeting, is postponed again until the next meeting. Councilwoman Hightower requested that more planning be developed for the area and was concerned about how it would impact the neighborhood.
Councilman Justin Outling (District 3) requested that the meeting be postponed until the Council was able to hear community concerns on the matter.
The next City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 2 at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber at the Melvin Municipal Building in Downtown Greensboro.