The Aiken Black Lives Matter Movement and the Aiken County branch of the NAACP have compiled a list of demands for local law enforcement.
The demands follow protests across the nation raising awareness of racial inequality and injustice after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Tony McDade.
Both Chief Charles Barranco with the Aiken Department of Public Safety and Capt. Eric Abdullah with the Aiken County Sheriff's Office said their offices are open to speaking with both organizations about demands.
Eugene White, president of the Aiken County NAACP, listed the four following demands while speaking at a City of Aiken press conference held at the Lessie B. Price Center on Wednesday:
1. Establish citizen's review boards with subpoena powers for the all law enforcement entities in Aiken County, including colleges and the university.
2. Review the use of force policies of the departments in Aiken County and recommend changes where appropriate; ban knee and choke holds if they are still part of the policy.
3. Call for a ban of no-knock warrants, the cause of death for Breonna Taylor.
4. Ban the box, meaning the box that asks whether you’ve been convicted of crime for employment applications in Aiken County.
"In Aiken County, we now have the task of turning anger into action and outrage into an outcome," White said. "The difference between a moment and a movement is that a movement requires sacrifice, intention and planning. This is an initial list where we can start the conversation of changing Aiken County for the better. They will require more work for all of us initially, but offer an exciting rate of return in the long run."
The City of Aiken created its own citizen review board in April 2016 in response to a federal lawsuit that alleged an Aiken County man was subjected to an illegal roadside cavity search in 2014.
Since forming, the Aiken Citizens Review Board has met once a month to review complaints against ADPS officers.
In addition to requesting a countywide review board being made and a ban on the use of knee and choke holds, the Black Lives Matter Aiken Movement has listed the following requests on their Facebook page:
1. Transparency on training procedures for local law enforcement as well as the addition of more extensive training programs.
2. Annual procedures aimed to constantly educate officers about racial biases.
3. Transparency on police conduct and disciplinary records and denial of recertification credentials for officers who were determined to have used unwarranted deadly force by federal guidelines.
4. A statement from both county and city police departments acknowledging the damaged relationship between law enforcement and black citizens and reaffirming commitments to repair this relationship.
The local BLM group met for the first time in Aiken on Tuesday to hold discussions and make signs for an upcoming protest at the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center on Saturday at 6 p.m.
The group, which formed earlier this week, now has over 900 followers on its Facebook page.