News

“Hate Crimes Prevention Act” would expand N.C. protections

With hate crimes on the rise in North Carolina – and nationwide – a bill filed Thursday seeks to expand North Carolina’s minority protections.

Senate Bill 209 – The Hate Crimes Prevention Act – would expand the state’s current hate crimes law to include sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, ethnicity and disability.

It would also require the creation of a hate crime reporting database at the State Bureau of Investigation and hate crime related training for both law enforcement and prosecutors.

The bill’s primary sponsors are Senators Jay Chaudhuri (D-Wake), Valerie Foushee (D -Orange) and Mujtaba Mohammed (D – Mecklenburg).

“This act will not eliminate hate crimes or hate groups,” Chaudhuri said in a statement Thursday. “But, this will signal to businesses across the country and internationally that North Carolina is a welcoming state, a state that works to recognize diversity and that our diversity is our greatest strength, not our weakness.”

The state’s image was badly tarnished in the fight over HB2. The law, passed in March 2016, eliminated legal protections for the LGBT community and mandated that individuals in government buildings use restrooms that corresponded to the gender on their birth certificate. It generated international media attention and led to boycotts of the state.

Its successor law is still being challenged.

Transgender North Carolinians are still denied healthcare related to gender dysphoria under the state employee health care plan, though it is covered by the company through which state employees are ensured.

News

Fate of “Silent Sam” still uncertain as UNC Board of Governors again delays decision

The UNC Board of Governors has pushed the deadline for a proposal on the fate of the Silent Sam Confederate monument to its May meeting, according to a letter from board Chairman Harry Smith.

“In order to give our team the time they need to do their work, I am extending that [March 15] deadline and asking them to report back to the Board at our May 2019 meeting,” Smith wrote in an e-mail to board members.

Back in December, the board rejected a controversial, $5.3 million plan to return the Silent Sam Confederate statue to the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill as part of a UNC History Center at the edge of campus. The board then formed a task force of Board of Governors members to help the UNC Board of Trustees put together an alternate plan to be presented to the full board by March 15.

That decision was followed by the abrupt resignation of Carol Folt as Chancellor at UNC-Chapel Hill. She announced in her resignation letter that she had ordered the base of the statue, which was toppled by student protesters last August. The move angered many members of the Board of Governors who felt Folt had overstepped in giving that order.

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ACLU requests transgender woman be moved to women’s prison

Kanautica Zayre-Brown

The ACLU of North Carolina has requested that a transgender woman be moved from where she is held among male prisoners at Harnett Correctional Institution in Lillington.

Kanautica Zayre-Brown is a 37-year-old transgender woman serving a sentence for insurance fraud and obtaining property by false pretenses. She and her husband Dionne Brown have been trying to get her moved out of confinement with male prisoners due to concerns she will be assaulted.

Though many transgender people elect not to have any surgical procedures related to their transition, Zayre-Brown has had her breasts augmented and genitals altered as part of gender confirmation surgery.

The state has not thus-far recognized her gender change and continues to use her male name, which she has had legally changed.

“Every day she is housed among men, forced to shower in group showers for men, and subjected to the constant indignities and threats to her health and safety that come with being stripped of her core identity,” wrote Sneha Shah, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, in a letter to the Department of Public Safety on Tuesday.

Zayre-Brown’s requests to be transferred have so far been denied. She was also initially denied hormone hormone treatment.

“These gross violations of Mrs. Zayre-Brown’s constitutional rights are putting her at great risk of serious harm,” Shah wrote.

The ACLU is promising legal action if discussions to resolve the current situation do not begin by April 1.

Department of Public Safety officials say they have received and are reviewing the letter.

ballot fraud, News, race, Voting

Elon Poll: In wake of Ninth District case, N.C. voters call election fraud a “major problem”

A new poll from Elon University finds more than half of N.C. voters surveyed consider election fraud a “major problem” in the state.

The poll was conducted this week in the wake of the dramatic hearings over alleged ballot fraud in the ninth congressional district,

“Now months out from the tainted 9th District election, North Carolina voters are broadly skeptical of elections in the state,” said Jason Husser, director of the Elon Poll and associate professor of political science, in a statement on the results. “A majority of the electorate has clear concerns about the fairness of future elections and the extent of fraud.”

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