News

UNC student paper: TA strike over Silent Sam “took advantage of students”

The Silent Sam Confederate monument – and the withholding of grades at the end of last semester over its future – continues to be a divisive issue.

This week The Daily Tarheel, the student newspaper of the UNC-Chapel Hill, blasted the teaching assistants who took part in the withholding of grades.

From the paper’s editorial:

The Board condemns these protests, not for the subject of derision, but for the manner in which these TAs expressed their opposition. A large part of the student body would share the views of the TAs in regards to this issue. Many students believe a museum like the administration proposed would serve not to contextualize the statue but rather to memorialize it, to ingrain it inside of UNC’s culture. Many students have protested the existence of Silent Sam, standing alongside figures such as Maya Little.

For this group of TAs to decide, after their last paycheck had been delivered, to hold the grades of their students hostage to make a statement is a cowardly move. For students to be so blatantly taken advantage of by those who hold positions of power above them reveals a remarkable lack of bravery from these TAs. These individuals used their authority as TAs to harm students who need these grades for internships, jobs or even graduate school acceptances.

As some were quick to point out in the comments, the professors and TAs participating in withholding grades did ultimately release them in time to avoid problems with internships, jobs or graduate school programs.

But the editorial demonstrates that while nearly every student, faculty and staff organization at UNC-Chapel Hill has made known their opposition to the Confederate statue and its return, not everyone in the community agrees on the tactics used to oppose it.

 

News

A look at race and risk assessment for minority youth defendants

Dr. Christina A. Campbell

As reform advocates continue to examine possible changes to North Carolina’s bail and pre-trial release systems, groups like the ACLU have urged caution.

Pre-trial risk assessments like those now being used in some of North Carolina’s largest counties can lead to racial inequities simply through the way they’re designed.

For a closer look at that issue, this piece from the Dr. Christina A. Campbell of The University of Cincinnati is worth your time.

From the piece:

 

One decision that juvenile courts frequently face when assessing an offending youth is whether that juvenile should be diverted through dismissal or into service learning programs, mental health treatment or advocacy/mentoring programs, especially when he or she has been arrested for relatively minor offenses.

The specific interaction of race and criminogenic risk, however, is rarely addressed with juvenile offenders.

Recent research conducted by myself and colleagues at the University of Cincinnati School of Criminal Justice, titled “Risk Assessment: An Interaction Between Risk, Race and Gender” showed that relationship between risk score and recidivism differed significantly for African-American and white youth, with the scores significantly less predicative for black juveniles.

Although a commonly used risk assessment instrument significantly predicted recidivism for all youth in the study, the risk-recidivism interaction was even more present for males and ethnic minorities.

More specifically, while there were no differences in the types of crimes committed and no difference in the proportion of low, moderate and high-risk African-American and white youth in the study, black males were more likely to receive a new court petition following their initial involvement with the juvenile court, compared to their white counterparts.

This means that there were factors beyond criminogenic risks as measured by risk assessment tools that led to recidivism. And it was the implementation of a risk assessment tool that allowed researchers to uncover this disparity.

Make the time to read the whole thing here.

News

U.S. Supreme Court to take up North Carolina gerrymandering case

The U.S. Supreme Court will take up a long-running partisan gerrymandering case, the court announced Friday afternoon.

As anticipated, the high court will hear Rucho v. Common Cause. The case will be set for argument in the court’s March session.

Federal courts have twice found the state’s 2016 congressional redistricting plan unconstitutional.

In the case, Common Cause argues extreme partisan gerrymandering punishes supporters of the minority party based on their political beliefs and in violation of the First Amendment.

State Rep. David Lewis (R- Harnett), an architect of the redistricting map, was transparent about its partisan intention when it was debated in 2016.

“I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats,” Lewis said. “So I drew this map to help foster what I think is better for the country.”

“Whether it is Democrats or Republicans manipulating the election maps, gerrymanders cheat voters out of true representation,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause, in a written statement Friday.

The court will also take up Lamone v. Benisek, a Maryland case that alleges a Democratic gerrymander. The outcome of the two redistricting cases could set a legal precedent dictating how maps are redrawn after the 2020 census.

“The Supreme Court has the opportunity to set a clear standard that will restore a meaningful vote to millions of Americans disenfranchised by gerrymanders in Maryland, North Carolina and across the country.”

 

News

Mark Harris asks court to force certification of 9th District race

Lawyers for Mark Harris are seeking to have the disputed 9th Congressional District race certified as an investigation continues into ballot fraud in the election.

On Thursday morning Harris’ lawyers filed a writ of mandamus with the Wake County Superior Court, seeking a court order the the State Board of Elections certify his victory in November. Harris also met with investigators from the board of elections Thursday morning.

Petition for Writ of Mandamus and Appeal (Text)

The board, at the center of its own legal battle, was dissolved last week and is composition the subject of partisan gridlock.

A hearing set for January 11 has been postponed.

Harris said that uncertainty made Thursday’s filing necessary.

“Our goal is to get certified by the state of North Carolina,” Harris said. “Without a state board of elections, we’re doing it in the filing that was done today.”

On Thursday Harris told reporters he saw no reason to doubt the legitimacy of the election and no reason he would not again hire Red Dome Group, the political consulting firm at the center of the alleged ballot fraud.

Harris said he could not say whether McCrae Dowless – a convicted felon, influential political operative and Bladen County elected official who state investigators say for years ran an illegal ballot harvesting scheme – has done anything wrong.

Multiple people have now come forward to say, in interviews and sworn affidavits, that they were paid by Dowless and his associates to collect masses of absentee ballots in the district. That’s  illegal because of concerns of tampering. A close race could be turned by either forging unsealed ballots or simply failing to turn in enough of one candidate’s mail-in ballots to give another a huge advantage among those voting absentee.

Harris admits he hired Dowless, who worked closely with Red Dome Group, the political consulting firm to which Harris paid $428,908 for work in the primary and general elections. But Harris said he had no idea that Dowless may have done something illegal and Dowless himself has, through an attorney, denied any of his work broke the law.

Harris narrowly bested incumbent Rep. Robert Pittinger in the May Republican primary and then appeared to defeat Democrat Dan McCready by just 905 votes in the November general election.

The numbers, and Dowless’ documented history, raised suspicions.

Seven percent of the ballots cast in Bladen County were absentee mail-in ballots – the highest percentage of any the eight counties that make up the 9th District.

In the GOP primary, Harris won 96 percent of Bladen County’s mail-in ballots – an extraordinary showing against the Republican incumbent.

In the general election Harris took 61 percent of the county’s mail-in absentee vote in a race where only 19 percent of the mail-in ballots came from registered Republicans.

In order for that to happen, Harris would have to have gotten all of the mail-in absentee votes of the 19 percent of registered Republicans, nearly all of the unaffiliated voters who used that method and some of the Democrats who voted that way as well.

More than 3,400 of the mail-in absentee ballots requested by voters in the 9th District were reported unreturned, according to the state board of elections. Most of those were in Bladen and Robeson counties and can be tied to precincts with high percentages of minority voters.

News

Winston-Salem: Remove Confederate monument or we will

Winston-Salem is the latest city to move to get rid of a prominent Confederate statue.

This one, dedicated in 1905, stands at the corner of West Fourth and North Liberty Streets downtown but is actually owned by the Daughters of the Confederacy. That’s the same group responsible for the erection of the “Silent Sam” monument on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus and many others throughout the South.

The group, which was responsible for a wave of such statues in the same period white supremacist campaigns disfranchised Black Voters and brought about legal segregation, has asked for Silent Sam to be returned to them.

But since UNC is technically the owner of the statue a 2015 law , passed to prevent the removal of confederate statues as a public movement to do away with them swelled, states, complicates that case.

Not so with Winston-Salem’s statue, suggested Mayor Allen Joines at an Emancipation Proclamation ceremony Tuesday. The statue is on private property.

The city has previously asked the Daughters of the Confederacy to relocate the statue. It was vandalized on Christmas day – the second time in the last two years – with protesters writing “Cowards & Traitors” just beneath its inscription. Joines said the city now considers the statue a public nuisance and potential threat to public safety. He’s giving the group until Jan. 31 to relocate the statue before the city takes legal action to have it removed.

At the same ceremony Tuesday, Winston-Salem City Council Member D.D. Adams said the city is “trying to be nice” but has to face the reality fo the situation.

“In the heat of the night, people may come through like ninja warriors and take that statue down,” said, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.