Updated 2 p.m.
GREENSBORO — Chanting, “No documents, no peace; no secret police,” seven members of the group GSO Operation Transparency were arrested on trespassing charges Wednesday at Greensboro City Hall while other members of the group chanted and cheered.
The group demanded documents from the city in a police misconduct case in the violent arrest of Dejuan Yourse by former Greensboro Police officer Travis Cole.
“Now more than ever we need (Council) to put safety above comfort,” group member CJ Brinson, 28, of Greensboro said. “There must be something that makes them uncomfortable about releasing the files.”
About 40 people, a few carrying boxes they hoped to fill with documents, marched to the Melvin Municipal Office Building at about 9:45 a.m. The group had first asked for the full investigative file of the Yourse arrest, including written and electronic correspondence, in mid-December. A few days later, City Council voted 7-2 not to release the files. Councilwoman Sharon Hightower and councilman Jamal Fox voted yes.
The documents were not released today.
Brinson, one of the seven arrested, said in two days the U.S. will be governed by a president that has suggested expanding the Stop and Frisk policy as well as enrolling Muslims in a national registry.
“We know Greensboro can do better,” he said.
Prior to the arrests, Brinson said he was willing to be arrested because democracy matters.
“We need to ensure we live in a city with democracy and transparency,” Brinson said. “I’m prepared to stand for democracy and protect those who are most vulnerable.”
He said it doesn’t matter who is at the heart of the issue at this point, be it Yourse or someone else.
”All subjects should be treated with the same type of dignity,” Brinson said. “I want to continue to raise awareness and build a stronger community against any tactic that fights against the democratic process.”
Footage of the June 17 arrest from the body cameras of former officers Cole and Charlotte Jackson was released last September. In the incident, Cole punches Yourse in the face and throws him to the ground from his mother’s porch. Cole and Jackson were investigating a possible robbery at the address of Yourse’s mother. Both officers have since resigned.
The seven group members were arrested inside the executive offices of City Hall after talking with City Manager Jim Westmoreland about why the files would not be released. Other members of the group remained in the hallway and chanted “release the files.”
Lamar Gibson, 25, of Greensboro, asked Westmoreland to recommend to council that the files be released. Westmoreland refused, citing the file as a personnel record.
Westmoreland told the group that City Council has released an amount of information in the Yourse arrest he characterized as “unprecedented.” Council voted to release the body camera footage, he said, and the council asked the Guilford County District Attorney’s Office to review the case a second time (the prosecutor’s office declined prosecution of both Cole and Yourse) and the group sent a letter to the state Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission that asked Cole’s law enforcement license be revoked.
The city manager warned the group not to block the halls, and said they could assemble during business hours, but not if they were disruptive. Seven members of the group, all dressed in red, were led away in handcuffs when the chanting grew louder and some group members talked over Westmoreland.
The group members were charged with second-degree trespassing. Westmoreland later said they were arrested because they became disruptive and didn’t follow City Hall rules and procedures.
Police identified the seven arrested as: Pamela Theresa Crosson, 42, of 813 Glenwood Ave.; Sabina Nogo, 26, of 2406 Gracewood Court; Cletis John-Allen (CJ) Brinson, 28, of 504 Gorrell St.; James Lamar Gibson, 26, of 422 N. Cedar St.; Sofia Tull, 25, of 519 N. Mendenhall St.; Juan Carlos Miranda Buzetta, 26, of 1100 Hicks Court; and Gary Scott Kenton, 66, of 606 Park Ave.
Initially GSO Operation Transparency went to the administrative office of chief of police where they chanted outside for a few minutes before moving upstairs to the executive offices of city hall.
Yourse, 37, arrived at City Hall just in time to see the arrests. He said he thinks the files should be released.
“It’s a very unfortunate situation. I came to support those people who came to support me,” he said. “I’m very thankful they’re doing this now.”
Following the arrests, Isabell Moore said the group would continue to push for the file’s release.
“This is not the end today,” she said. “Transparency needs to be a core value in our city. In the coming weeks we will strategize about what to do to figure out our next steps.”
Posted 12 a.m. Wednesday
GREENSBORO — A watchdog group demanding documents in a police misconduct investigation will be at city hall at 9:30 a.m. today.
Andrew Garces, a member speaking for GSO Operation Transparency said a few dozen people are expected to show up at the Melvin Municipal Office Building, 300 W. Washington St., to demand the release of the full investigative file on the arrest of Dejuan Yourse.
The group requested the information from Greensboro City Council Dec. 13. Council voted at its Dec. 20 meeting not to release the remaining documents.
Garces said the group will conduct what it describes as “a people’s document search” for all written and electronic correspondence on the Yourse arrest.
Yourse was thrown from his mother’s porch and punched in the face on June 17, 2016, during his arrest by former Greensboro Police Officer Travis Cole. Cole and Officer Charlotte Jackson were investigating a possible robbery at the address. The incident was captured on the officers’ body cameras. Both have since left the department.
Garces said members of GSO Operation Transparency have been trained in methods of civil disobedience related to its request for the documents.
The training includes knowing their rights to access of public buildings and knowing how to move as a group to accomplish its goals.
At least five people in the group are prepared to be arrested, Garces said.
This is a developing story, read new information as it becomes available on greensboro.com.