Journalists are not in the business of inserting themselves into the news cycle, even opinion journalist who generally opine or fact-check or ruminate on the issues of the day without endeavoring to be a part of them.
And yet Triad City Beat is one of 13 local groups that signed an amicus brief, to be filed Nov. 1 in the state Court of Appeals, supporting the city of Greensboro in its efforts to find out what happened to Zared Jones.
Jones, a 29-year-old nursing assistant from Greensboro, was arrested downtown in September 2016. At issue is the nature of his alleged crime, its resolution — charges were dismissed, Jones says, without his knowledge — and the conduct of the officers involved, whom Jones says were profiling him and his friends.
Police body-camera video captured several angles of the entire incident. In accordance with state law, the only people who have seen this footage are the Greensboro Police Department — which cleared itself of wrongdoing in an internal investigation — the police review board, since disbanded, and Jones, along with his lawyer Graham Holt.
Greensboro City Council, it is worth noting, has not seen any of the police footage, citing its inability to discuss the matter as the reason.
A gag order, issued by Superior Court Judge Susan Bray in February, precludes anyone who has seen the video from talking about it. With anyone.
And that’s why our name is on the amicus brief.
We’re a newspaper, charged with handling the people’s business as best we can. To make that happen we have to push for transparency, for the voters’ and taxpayers’ right to know what is happening in their names, every time.
Jones’ attorney, Graham Holt, has drafted a confidential letter asking Greensboro City Council to watch the body-camera video, as he has, and act on the knowledge contained therein.
He’s alleging police misconduct — a strong charge from an officer of the court. The police video, that no one has seen or is even allowed to talk about, might have some answers.
But answers will be forthcoming only if the people demand it.