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There’s a simple reason that the Pope-Civitas Institute (an organization that was founded by one of the state’s richest and most powerful men and named after his father) still struggles to be taken seriously in the North Carolina policy debate after years of effort, even in the current hard right political environment — namely, the low quality of the content it regularly produces.

New confirmation of this fact is on full display today in the group’s latest below-the-belt attack on the President of the North Carolina NAACP, Rev. William Barber.

Of course, scurrilous Civitas attacks on Barber are nothing especially new. Every few months, it seems, the group finds some out-of-date and unflattering photo of Barber to marry with some laughable implication that Barber is somehow enriching himself with public funds. Remember the downright offensive “Money Monday” baloney from a couple of years back? As we explained at the time:

“…it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry at the utter disconnection from reality that these libelous attacks bespeak.

On the one hand, they are just so downright (and comically) crude and ham-fisted that you almost have to cringe in embarrassment for the Pope-Civitas people. Seriously, the notion that giant organizations with proud histories like the NAACP, AARP and the YWCA are protesting the myriad regressive actions of the 2013 General Assembly because some branch happens to administer a few thousand dollars in public funds is just so patently absurd that it’s hard to believe that a supposedly serious group – a group nervy enough to describe itself as “North Carolina’s Conservative Voice” – would stoop to allege it.

Similarly, to imply that Rev. William Barber – a courageous man who works night and day at enormous personal sacrifice, physical pain and even personal risk; a man who directs a tiny paid staff and who has, for years, tirelessly traveled the length and breadth if the state in an old minivan to help countless underdog causes – is doing what he is doing in order to advance his own personal financial agenda, is just so utterly wrong and, for lack of a better word, malicious that it must render any fair-minded observer virtually speechless.”

Now, Pope-Civitas is at it again — trying to manufacture a controversy out of whole cloth over the fact that Barber serves as the unpaid chair of the the board of a Goldsboro nonprofit that receives Department of Public Instruction funds (via a competitive grant process) to help serve low and moderate income families (irrespective of their religious beliefs) and promote community economic development.

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Commentary

Valentine’s Day 2015, February 14, will be especially memorable this year. This is from the good fols at the NAACP and HKonJ coalition:

On this Valentine’s Day, bring your sweetheart to Raleigh and JOIN THE LARGEST LOVE AND JUSTICE MOVEMENT SINCE SELMA!

We will show our LOVE for JUSTICE! We LOVE justice in Education; We LOVE Economic Sustainability, We LOVE Workers and Workers’ Rights and Livable Wages; We LOVE Health Care For All, Medicaid Expansion: We LOVE our Environment; We LOVE Equal Protection Under the Law, without regard to creed, race, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation; We LOVE Voting Rights For All; We LOVE criminal justice.

We LOVE the most vulnerable within our State and Nation; We LOVE the power and beauty of diversity within our State and Nation; We LOVE our neighbors; WE ARE IN THIS LOVE TOGETHER! And We are determined to go “FORWARD TOGETHER, NOT ONE STEP BACK!”

On February 14, 2015, we will gather at 9:00 a.m. in downtown Raleigh. The march will begin at 10:00 a.m. after which we will begin the mass people’s assembly on the doorstep of the State Capitol. Read More

News

The Associated Press is reporting that the FBI is looking into the death of a Bladenboro teenager found hung to death near his home.

From the AP:

A prosecutor says the FBI is looking into the hanging death of a black North Carolina teen after his family questioned the official ruling that he killed himself.

Seventeen-year-old Lennon Lacy was found hanging by a dog leash and a belt from a swing set in a trailer park in August. The state medical examiner ruled it a suicide, based on reports from law enforcement and a county coroner. That coroner says he now questions if it was a suicide because of so many unanswered questions.

Bladen County District Attorney Jon David confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday that an FBI agent has been assigned the case.

Lennon Lacy

Lennon Lacy

Lacy, 17, was found dead in late August, hanging from a swing set near his home. While local police and the state medical examiner have classified his death a suicide, his family members have questioned that, pointing out that the outgoing teenager was excited about an upcoming football game and was found wearing shoes that didn’t belong to him.

Lacy, who was black, also had a romantic relationship with an older white woman and his body was found near a predominantly white trailer park in the rural Southeastern North Carolina town.

The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP is holding a march at 10 a.m. tomorrow in Bladenboro to call for a more thorough investigation into Lacy’s death. Check the NC NAACP’s Facebook page for more information about the march.

The state NAACP also released a report last month  from a pathologist who questioned the state medical examiner Deborah Radisch’s ruling in Lacy’s death, noting that the state official wasn’t provided photographs of the swing set, according to Raleigh television station WRAL.

From WRAL:

Lacy was 5 feet 9 inches tall, while the cross beam on the set was 7.5 feet from the ground. There were no swings attached to the structure, nothing at the scene that he could have stood on, and a grommet that the noose was tied to was nearly 2 feet away from the swing’s climbing platform, the report states.

The noose also did not appear long enough for him to have been able to tie it from the platform and still have a loop big enough for him to place it over his head, according to the report.

Bladen County District Attorney Ben David has said he believes the investigation was thorough and welcomes a federal review.

You can read the entire article here and the NAACP report here.

 

Commentary
Lennon Lacy

Lennon Lacy

In case you missed it, the Fayetteville Observer has added its voice to the growing chorus demanding a fully-fledged federal investigation of the hanging death of Bladenboro teen Lennon Lacy.

This is from an editorial published in the paper this week:

An independent pathologist hired by the state branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People says substantial evidence calls the official explanation into doubt and suggests instead that Lacy could have been murdered, with race a motivating factor.

The NAACP has asked Thomas Walker, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, for a federal inquiry into whether a hate crime occurred or Lacy’s civil rights were violated. But Walker’s office doesn’t comment on whether there’s any investigation.

This specific type of death, by hanging of a young African-American male, has a history in this country and this region. That history includes quick dismissals by state and local officials who wanted to look the other way. Because of that history, there are doubts.

The NAACP pathologist’s analysis offers additional cause for doubt. The organization is right to seek federal involvement.

This is not something we want to be in doubt about. We need a genuine effort to discover and analyze the physical and circumstantial evidence in Lacy’s death.

Seek out the truth, then offer a public accounting that will cast aside the burden of doubt.

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

News

The August death of a Bladenboro teenager found hanging from a swingset in a rural part of southeastern North Carolina is continuing to attract national attention.

Journalist Katie Couric recently profiled Lacy’s death, as part of her new reporting project with Yahoo and as the nation reacts to recent decisions not to pursue criminal charges in the deaths of two other black men, Eric Garner of New York and Mike Brown of Ferguson, Mo. (Click here to watch Couric’s video report.)

Lennon Lacy, 17, found dead in Bladenboro in August.

The Guardian, a newspaper based in London, wrote about Lacy’s death in October.

Lacy’s Aug. 29 death has been treated as a suicide, and local authorities have said they don’t have any evidence that he was killed.

But Lacy’s parents have said the high school football player showed no prior signs of depression at the time of his death.

The teenager, who is black, was found near a predominantly-white trailer park in the small town in Bladen County. Lacy, a star high school football player, had been in a romantic relationship with a 31-year-old white woman at the time of his death, and his family now question whether he could have been killed by someone angered by the interracial relationship.

The family, backed by the Rev. William Barber II of the North Carolina NAACP chapter have asked for a federal hate crime investigation into Lacy’s death.

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