Friday, April 27, 2001

Pact might end protests over black man's death




The Associated Press

        OWENSBORO, Ky. — Owensboro officials and members of the NAACP have reached a tentative agreement they hope will end months of protesting over the shooting death of a black motorist by a city police officer.

        But neither side will give details of the agreement until they have settled on the wording, said Kenny Riley, president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

        “I think we're going to get somewhere,” Mr. Riley said. “This goes a long way toward a positive end. I think things are headed down the right road.”

        The agreement was reached during a two-hour closed meeting. Members of the media were asked to leave before the meeting began Wednesday. When Mr. Riley called for the meeting to be open, city officials refused.

        One city commissioner said the mayor and city manager even asked him to leave so there wouldn't be a quorum, avoiding the requirement of an open meeting.

        Protesting began in November after Tyrone Clayton Jr., 22, was shot to death by Owensboro police Officer Lorhn Frazier.

        A Daviess County grand jury reviewed the case April 4 and chose not to indict Officer Frazier. An internal Owensboro Police Department investigation concluded Officer Frazier should not be disciplined for the shooting.

        Mr. Riley and other NAACP members and civil rights activists met with Mayor Waymond Morris, City Manager Ron Payne, Commissioner Olive Burroughs and Police Chief Allen Dixon.

        At the same time, across town at City Hall, the Rev. Louis Coleman, a civil rights leader from Shelbyville, and the Rev. Larry Lewis, pastor at Zion Baptist Church, were leading a group of about 20 people in a sit-in at the building's lobby.

        Rev. Coleman's group arrived at City Hall just before 4 p.m. expecting a meeting with Mr. Morris. The group prayed for justice, sang hymns and carried signs that read, “Let's weed out our bad, so our police department can grow.” A young boy held a sign that said, “Keep me safe.”

        Mr. Payne told them the mayor would meet with Rev. Coleman alone, but not the entire group. Rev. Coleman refused, calling the actions of Messrs. Payne and Morris “arrogant.”

       



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