High Point city leaders respond to protests

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HIGH POINT, N.C. — High Point Police Chief Kenneth Shultz is taking a firm stance as tensions rise in communities across the nation. 

He says he does not agree with what happened with George Floyd in Minneapolis and says that is not the way he runs his department.

Shultz addressed community leaders during a virtual council meeting Monday afternoon.

He began with the statement that the actions of the officers in Minneapolis “without merit, justification, and displaying an absence of compassion for an individual.”

This comes after protests in High Point on Sunday night left people cleaning up and wondering what would happen next. 

Across parts of the city, there are broken windows and boarded up stores hours after police donned riot gear, put out fires and dealt with looting at local stores. 

High Point police tell FOX8 about 40-50 people went into the closed Walmart on South Main Street and made off with various items. 

An ABC store was hit by a group that left with alcohol. 

High Point police also say someone threw a Molotov cocktail at a building. 

All actions that city leaders say were not apart of the original protest plan. 

“To the folks who decided to take advantage of what, I think is a sensitive moment here in our country and decided they would allow their actions, their riotous behavior of looting and desecrating buildings…those people have decided to take that and allow that to be conflated with protesting? It sickens me,” said Cyril Jefferson, High Point City Councilman for Ward 1.

Jefferson told FOX8 he believes the destruction to the city was caused by people who don’t live in High Point and are not trying to send the same shared message.

“Stop desecrating the memory and the honor of George Floyd’s life,” he said. “He didn’t die so that could take place. That’s not how he wants to be remembered. That’s not how his family wants him to be remembered.” 

What Jefferson and others in the community do want is a conversation.

Shultz broke that barrier with protesters on Sunday afternoon.

FOX8 cameras were rolling as the chief approached a group of protesters and answered some of their questions.

“Your concern is if I think violence is wrong?,” he said. “I think violence is wrong whoever does it. If it’s the police that’s doing it, if it’s different community members doing it. It’s all wrong.”

Shultz revisited that same message again on Monday afternoon during the council meeting.

“I think that’s what our community demands of us. I think that’s what we demand of ourselves. To be fair and consistent,” he said.

The police chief also took the time to break down the department’s practices in an effort to be fully transparent with the public on their policies and how they train their officers. 

“We hold each other accountable,” Shultz said. “Communication continues to have a focal point with de-escalation.” 

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