The Greensboro Justice Coalition: An Organization for Change

Justice4Marcus

Cyannah Lowery , Contributor

The Greensboro Justice Coalition (GJC) is an activist organization committed to ending police violence and abuse across the city and the country. 

The GJC consists of different groups that come together, such as the Beloved Community Center, the Good Neighbor Movement, Democracy Greensboro, Greensboro Rising, Guilford for All, the Homeless Union of Greensboro, and the Sunrise Movement. 

The Coalition holds meetings, advocates through social media and broadcasting platforms and holds Community socials. 

The Greensboro Justice Coalition serves and represents the people they feel are the most abandoned and they do this by following their four main principles:

  • Only take action on the things the group agrees needs to be solved
  • Raise the voices of their communities
  • We are diverse and inclusive and allow people from all backgrounds to participate
  • We stay curious about their differences and encourage exploration

The Greensboro Justice Coalition also has their own structure, a design made up of each team that has their own job and task they complete. 

The steering team is tasked with setting direction and for each upcoming month. The action planning team meets weekly and they plan upcoming actions or events.

The community and base building team focuses on ways to grow their community and base. Lastly, the communications team keeps the community informed of everything and also advertises for the organization.

All of this is done so that justice is made for those who didn’t have a say or a choice. For example, Marcus Deon Smith, is their current focus right now.  

They created the #JusticseforMarcus because of an incident that happened. On Sept. 8, 2018, Marcus Deon Smith approached police officers as he walked around, in a state of fear and shock, in and out of traffic on Church Street in downtown Greensboro. 

He was showing obvious signs of discomfort. Mr. Smith battled with a diagnosed mental illness that would cause extreme anxiety, paranoia, and delusions. 

Marcus Smith asked for help from the police officers asking if he could be taken to the hospital. With that being said he voluntarily got into a police patrol car after he was told he would be taken to the hospital for medical aid.

After a short amount of time, Mr. Smith became distressed and fearful. He tried to get out of the vehicle,  and when he was allowed out of the car, several officers tackled him to the pavement face down, handcuffed his hands behind his back, and proceeded with force to bind his feet close to his hands behind his back with a strap. 

Pleading “Please!” and “I’m not resisting,” Smith moaned. His movements were sudden but not violent according to police camera footage, as stated in theassemblync.

This procedure of binding a detainee’s feet to hands is “maximally restrained” by the Greensboro Police Department but is commonly called hogtying. 

While he was being restrained in the most hostile manner, he stopped breathing and had no pulse. He was later declared dead at Cone Hospital, according to WXii12.

Because of this, the Greensboro Justice Coalition brought seven different demands to the Greensboro city council. List of requests is as follows. 

  • Settle the Smith family lawsuit and stop using $300 an hour on defense lawyers.
  • Make a written and verbal apology to the Smith family and the community for the incident.
  • Release, to the public, all of the personnel and disciplinary records of the investigation and officers present
  • Ensure that consequences are given to those police officers that hog-tied Marcus Smith and those officers that stood by without stopping it. 
  • Institute an ordinance (Law) that bans hogtying and limits the excessive use of force.
  • Invest in mental health workers as an alternative in crisis situations to respondence by the police.
  • Adopt the policy as written by GCJAC that requires the police to get signed permission before conducting a search without a warrant.

According to ngfm.

After the Greensboro Justice Coalition successfully obtains justice for Marcus, they plan on continuing their fight against police brutality. 

If you would like to join, give back, or donate to the Greensboro Justice Coalition in any way, please visit their Facebook web page @GSOjusticecoalition you can also click the link to their linktree here