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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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Commentary
Funeral

Photo: NC NAACP

As the North Carolina NAACP holds a “Denial of Medicaid Funeral Procession” today, it’s worth considering some of the facts and data surrounding the impact of North Carolina’s ongoing refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act:

The North Carolina Institute of Medicine’s 2009 Access to Care study begins with this statement: “The lack of health insurance coverage is the foremost barrier to accessing health care services.”

In the report’s introduction it continues:

In a statewide survey of adults, nearly half of the uninsured in North Carolina reported forgoing necessary care due to cost, compared to 10% of individuals with insurance coverage. Lack of coverage also adversely affects health as the uninsured are less likely to get preventive screenings or ongoing care for chronic conditions. Consequently, the uninsured have a greater likelihood than people with coverage of being diagnosed with severe health conditions (such as late stage cancer), being hospitalized for preventable health problems, or dying prematurely. In fact, adults who lack insurance coverage are 25% more likely to die prematurely than adults with insurance coverage.

A Families USA report in 2010 estimated that before the Affordable Care Act passed nearly 1,000 North Carolinians died each year between 2005 and 2010 due to lack of health insurance.

What has changed is that the states now have an unprecedented tool for saving lives. North Carolina now has the opportunity to extend health insurance coverage to nearly all low-income adults, the majority of whom are working. The federal government will finance nearly the entire cost of this coverage expansion. Not expanding coverage is not only morally misguided but it is also fiscally irresponsible. Read More

Commentary

Lest anyone have any doubt about what the real life impact is of the the McCrory-Berger-Tillis decision to refuse to expand Medicaid over the last two years, the NAACP will lead an event today at the Old State Capitol Building in Raleigh to remind folks:

“To dramatize the loss of life, healthcare, jobs, and hospitals due to the extreme and immoral denial of Medicaid Expansion, the people of North Carolina will come together on October 20th to hold a funeral procession around the State Capitol.”

What is the result of the Governor and General Assembly’s decision to block Medicaid Expansion?
• 27,044 diabetics not getting necessary medications
• 40,000 women not receiving recommended preventive screenings
• 14,776 more families receiving catastrophic medical bills
• 2,800 deaths that could have been prevented
• The rejection of $4.9 million per day by North Carolina’s Governor and General Assembly that would provide coverage to 500,058 uninsured people (since January 1, 2014)

Why North Carolina should expand Medicaid:
• It would extend insurance coverage to more than 500,000 North Carolinians.
• More than 300,000 of these people have no other insurance options.
• The federal government will fund more than 90% of this expansion.
• It would create roughly 25,000 jobs by 2016.
• It would bring in more than $2 billion in federal funds to the state every year.
• It would save North Carolina $65.4 million over the next 8 years.”

Recent signals from the McCrory administration indicate a willingness to finally rethink their stubborn opposition. Let’s hope today’s event abets that process.

Commentary

The Winston-Salem Journal reports that the state has mailed out about 200 checks to commence the inadequate and uninspired compensation plan for victims of the state’s 45-year-long eugenics program.

Elaine Riddick got a call this week that had been more than 40 years in the making.

Riddick, a victim of North Carolina’s eugenics program, said she received word from the state that they would send her a eugenics compensation payment at the end of the month.

“I have been fighting this for over 40 years,” said Riddick, who is now 60 years old.

As you will recall the program forcibly sterilized around 7,600 people from 1929 to 1974. Sadly, not only is the compensation plan too little and too late for most of those victimized, but even now, state officials continue to respond to requests for compensation in a narrow and tightfisted way.

Let’s hope that sometime soon, state leaders come to their senses and move to expand outreach, funding, eligibility and assistance for claimants  for the program as advocates like the good folks at the state NAACP have been demanding for months.