March announced for Whiteville Saturday

A Charlotte community activist announced Friday that he will lead a march in Whiteville Saturday to protest police brutality.

John C. Barnett of True Healing Under God (THUG) ministries announced on social media that his organization will host a “Justice March” at the historic courthouse at noon. Barnett said the event will feature five speakers, and around 30 family members of men allegedly assaulted by police will be at the rally.

It’s not Barnett’s first time in Whiteville: he said he was part of the group that investigated the accidental shooting of a Charlotte girl visiting Chadbourn. Jasmine Thar was killed in 2012 when she was struck by a bullet fired by a neighbor in Chadbourn. Barnett and others disputed claims that the shooting was accidental, and claimed race was a motivating factor. Investigators found no evidence to support an indictment for murder. A civil suit against the manufacturer of the gun in the case is still pending.

Barnett returned to the spotlight during the Charlotte riots in September, when a gathering he helped organize at Marshall Park turned violent. He said Friday that he does not condone such violence. He refers to himself on social media as “the Prince of Civil Rights,” and has appeared on multiple news programs discussing racial issues.

Barnett said Saturday’s protest is a show of solidarity with Ray Kwietti, Juwan Britt, and other black men who claimed they were injured in police custody. Britt appeared before the Whiteville City council last year claiming that he was assaulted by Whiteville Police during a drug arrest.

Kwietti was dropped off at the hospital after Whiteville Police “broke his leg in two places,” Barnett said. Other alleged victims were assaulted by prison guards and the Highway Patrol, Barnett said.

Barnett said the goal of the rally is to shed light on alleged misdeeds by police. He said the protestors are exercising their right to assemble and their right to free speech, and do not intend to get a permit from the city.

Whiteville Police said they had not received a request for a parade permit as of Friday afternoon. Chief Jeff Rosier said the department encourages people to exercise their right to free speech and peaceable assembly as long as no state or local laws are broken.