Community relations meeting held in Greensboro

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Dozens of community members prayed and shared stories at Shiloh Baptist Church Thursday night as part of the Police Accountability, Community Safety and Healing Initiative.

"Since Ferguson, there's been a massive, in a sense, explosion of emotion," said Rev. Nelson Johnson, executive director of Beloved Community Center of Greensboro.

Johnson says the explosion has most recently been seen through days of protests and recent unrest in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray.

"The problem is so deep and so long, all of us now have to work together, pray together, and take this nation to a new place," he said.

Johnson says, along with community discussions, a part of that work is grass-roots community organizing and demanding answers from local officials.

A strategy he says helped get charges dropped for Devin and Rufus Scales.

The brothers were arrested by last August and accused of impeding the regular flow of traffic. Rufus Scales was also charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest.

Along with dropping the charges, City Manager Jim Westmoreland also wrote the brothers a letter on behalf of the city and the Greensboro Police Department, apologizing for their “negative encounter.”

"We've had to walk with them and sit down with them and pray with them and go to court with them," Johnson said referring to the months of organizing and community rallying to have the charges dropped.

“We’ve been in prayer vigils, we’ve been in marches.”

Johnson and other community leaders are also working to gain support for the passing of House Bill 193 which would demand more police accountability by making racial profiling illegal, increasing diversity training for police, and allowing cities to form police citizen review boards.

Community leaders plan on going to next week's city council meeting to ask the city to endorse House Bill 193.

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