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CHARLOTTE – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina today called on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to release any body or dash cam footage that captured yesterday’s police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, the 194th Black person killed by U.S. police this year. Police say Mr. Scott was shot and killed while officers were trying to execute an arrest warrant for a different person.

A new North Carolina law, HB 972, will prevent law enforcement agencies from releasing body camera footage in the public interest without a court order, but the law does not take effect until October 1. All Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers are supposed to be equipped with body cameras while on patrol and the cameras should be in use any time an arrest is made, according to department policy.  

Karen Anderson, Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina, released the following statement:

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RICHMOND, VA – In a divided 2-1 ruling, a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit today reversed a lower court decision that found the commissioners of Rowan County, North Carolina, violated the Constitution when they coerced public participation in prayers that overwhelmingly advanced beliefs specific to one religion.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents three Rowan County residents in a challenge to the commissioners’ prayer policy, says it will ask the Fourth Circuit to review the ruling en banc, in which the case would be heard by all 15 judges on the Fourth Circuit. In a dissenting opinion today, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson wrote that “the message actually delivered in this case was not one of welcome but of exclusion” and that “it is the combination of the role of the commissioners, their instructions to the audience, their invocation of a single faith, and the local governmental setting that threatens to blur the line between church and state to a degree unimaginable in [the Supreme Court’s decision in] Town of Greece.”

“Today’s ruling is out of step with the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty for all, and we will ask the full appellate court to review this decision,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director for the ACLU of North Carolina. “Rowan County residents should be able to attend local government meetings without being coerced to participate in a sectarian prayer or worry that the commissioners may discriminate against them if they do not. As Judge Wilkinson wrote in his dissent today, the facts in this case are a ‘conceptual world apart’ from those the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in Greece, New York, and that is why we will seek en banc review.”

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CHARLOTTE – The ACLU and Lambda Legal today called on Governor Pat McCrory and North Carolina legislative leaders to stop playing games and repeal H.B. 2, the state law that bans many transgender people from appropriate restrooms and prohibits local municipalities from extending nondiscrimination protections to LGBT people. The two organizations issued the following statement in response to Gov. McCrory’s and legislative leaders’ demand that the City of Charlotte repeal its LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance as a precondition for the legislature considering the repeal of H.B. 2.

“North Carolina’s people and economy are suffering because the General Assembly and Governor McCrory passed a law that encourages discrimination against LGBT people and particularly targets and harms transgender people,” said Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina. “It is absurd, dishonest and wrong to blame the damage caused by H.B. 2 on a Charlotte ordinance that protects LGBT people from discrimination and is similar to laws in 18 states and more than 200 municipalities. North Carolina’s leaders need to stop blaming others, take responsibility for the disaster that is H.B. 2 and repeal the entire discriminatory law without delay. We urge the Charlotte City Council to stand firm on its commitment to protecting the LGBT community from discrimination by leaving its ordinance intact.”

“The reason the NBA, NCAA and countless other groups and companies have refused to do business in North Carolina is because H.B. 2 is an unprecedented and targeted attack on the LGBT community that is inconsistent with American values – not because Charlotte commendably decided to protect LGBT people from discrimination,” said Simone Bell, the Southern Regional Director for Lambda Legal. “Nondiscrimination policies like Charlotte’s are good and necessary measures that protect the LGBT community. Repealing Charlotte’s ordinance would be a step backward for equality, inclusion and fairness. Governor McCrory and the General Assembly need to stop pointing fingers, do the right thing and repeal all of H.B. 2’s harmful provisions.”

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court today denied North Carolina’s request to stay a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the state’s restrictive voting law.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Southern Coalition for Social Justice challenged the law, charging it discriminates against African-American votersand unduly burdens the right to vote, in violation of the U.S Constitution’s 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed the law was enacted “with discriminatory intent,” against African Americansand issued a sweeping ruling on July 29 that blocked voter ID and restored a week of early voting, same-day registration, preregistration, and out-of-precinct provisional voting.

“The Supreme Court was correct to deny North Carolina’s last-ditch effort to undermine African-American voter participation in the November election. This ruling means that thousands of voters who would have been disenfranchised will now be able to participate in the presidential election,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

The ACLU, ACLU of North Carolina, and Southern Coalition for Social Justice represent the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, the North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute, North Carolina Common Cause, Unifour Onestop Collaborative, and several individuals.

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