Black politician arrested for distributing voting rights information

President of North Carolina's NAACP: “Take this incident and turn it into power. Anyone who says they’re upset about this profiling of black men, ask them if they’re registered to vote. That’s how we change this system.”
By JC Sevcik  |  Sept. 2, 2014 at 6:19 PM
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CHARLOTTE, N.C., Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Police in Charlotte, North Carolina arrested a young black politician and political activist Monday for distributing voting rights information pamphlets.

Ty Turner was attending a Moral Monday rally -- weekly demonstrations protesting the legislative agenda of North Carolina's Republican majority in control of the state's congress -- in Charlotte's Marshall Park on Labor Day.

Turner, an LGBT activist and former State Senate candidate who lost in May's primaries, took the opportunity to flier nearby cars at the rally with information on voting rights, when he was confronted and arrested by police.

"They said they would charge me for distributing literature," he told ThinkProgress after being released from jail.

"I asked [the officer] for the ordinance number [I was being arrested for violating], because they can't put handcuffs on you if they cannot tell you why they're detaining you. I said, 'Show me where it's illegal to do this.' But he would not do it. The officer got mad and grabbed me. Then he told me that I was resisting arrest!"

The arresting officers purportedly failed to take Turner directly to jail, which was near the park, and instead drove him around town, idling in an empty parking lot near the highway for a time.

"They took me to three different spots other than the jail," he said. "They knew they were in the wrong," Turner said.

Protesters attending the Moral Monday Rally caught wind of Turner's arrest and immediately led a march to the nearby jail to demand his release.

"The arrogance to come into our rally and think they can snatch up one of our boys and we're going to be quiet about it! That day is so old we can't even remember it," said Reverend Dr. William Barber, founder of Moral Mondays and President of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP.

"Ty is not the only person this has happened to and he will not be the last one," a friend of Turner's going only by Cece said. "A lot of people get arrested and detained without reason, unjustly, and we need to be there for them."

Shortly after the crowd of some 30 protesters assembled in front of the jail, police announced they would release Turner with a citation but no charge.

"Take this incident and turn it into power. Anyone who says they're upset about this profiling of black men, ask them if they're registered to vote. That's how we change this system," Reverend Dr. Barber said.

Echoing Barber, Turner said, "I always tell people, 'Know the law. Know what your rights are. You've got power. The law works for you only if you know it.'"

Though the arresting officers told Turner he was "under arrest," a spokeswoman for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said he was detained, but not charged, according to the Huffington Post.

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