Below is the rest of the defense's trial brief
Records for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina further illustrate the relationship between protest movements, civil rights, and policing. In particular, the case of Charles E. Pierce, et al. v. Harold Mundy, et al. dealt with police officers responding to allegedly violent protests among African American youths.
A trial brief for the case dictates that on Sunday night, June 8, 1969, a small group of black youths took down a confederate flag from a white man’s property. This in turn sparked a fight between the flag owner’s brother and the group of black youths. The incident prompted an organizational meeting of the Klu Klux Klan at the Roxboro Bus Station, which 150 black youths responded to in protest by gathering at the Bates Service Station in the southern section of Roxboro. The group was dispersed by Roxboro police, but over the next five nights, reports of allegedly violent behavior from groups of African American youths of varying sizes persisted. Early on Saturday morning, June 14, 1969, police, who were investigating a complaint about the beating of two white men, apprehended and took into custody “members of [a] threatening mob” at the alleged location of the attacks. Later in the morning, police investigating the alleged use of fire bombs on a Phillips 66 Service Station arrested 25 individuals present, charging them with breach of peace. Some of those that were arrested in the former investigation of the beatings ultimately became the plaintiffs in the pictured civil action, alleging “brutality and barbaric treatment.”
The trial brief composed by the officers’ council, which included the Assistant Attorney General for North Carolina, reveals much of the logic behind expansion of police power. The brief cites the Supreme Court case of Pierson v. Ray in which Chief Justice Warren writes “A policeman’s lot is not so unhappy that he must choose between being charged with dereliction of duty if he does not arrest when he has probable cause, and being mulcted in damages if he does.” Such a statement favors action and results, while failing to account for the vital importance of process and oversight. Expanding on Warren's decision, the brief cites the “honest misunderstanding of the law” as a viable justification for an officer’s actions while rationalizing excessive force by citing Daly v. Pedersen in which police “shoved [the plaintiff] down a courthouse hallway and assaulted him on the way down the steps to the jail,” actions later deemed “trivial battery.”
This obscure case demonstrates the small steps of rationalization and ideological disregard, which become so dangerous in a system of policing that lacks substantial oversight. While the instances of alleged battery and brutality presented in Pierce v. Mundy may seem isolated or antiquated, the lack of procedural clarity and the encouragement of partial disregard by decisions like Chief Justice Warren's create a lack of accountability and justify unprofessionalism.
The effects of such symbolic and explicit expansions of police power are explored throughout the website.