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Local political organizer/activist Bryan Perlmutter has called our attention to an exciting summer training program for Triangle-area young people:

“Calling Triangle-Area Teens:  Work this summer to stop racism & school re-segregation, challenge the school to prison pipeline, and make schools safe for LBGTQ youth (and get paid!).

 
The Institute will take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from July 9-25, with one overnight retreat. 
Entering its fourth year the Youth Organizing Institute is committed to training, supporting, and developing the next generation of activists, organizers, and social change leaders in North Carolina.

Applications are due June 1.

Get the full story by clicking here.

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Lethal injectionIn keeping with its practice of reversing progress and bucking national trends toward saner and more progressive public policies, the state Senate will take up a bill this morning to repeal the Racial Justice Act and jump-start executions. If the bill advances, however, it will do so over the objections of a group of more than 70 college and university professors who have delivered a letter to lawmakers spelling out the flaws in the legislation.

Meanwhile, one of the professors in the group — Appalachian State criminologist Matthew Robinson – authored an op-ed in the Winston-Salem Journal yesterday that does an excellent job of explaining why the proposed legislation is counterproductive. 

“As a professional criminologist who has written numerous articles and books on the factors that produce crimes like murder and how to prevent them, I am confident that the death penalty is a distraction from policies that actually work. So we should stop wasting our time “tinkering with the machinery of death” and get to the hard work of finally getting serious about instituting more effective crime prevention policies.”

You can read Robinson’s entire essay by clicking here.

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Supporters of new laws to require North Carolinians to produce a government-issued form of photo identification every time they troop to the polls love to cite public opinion for the proposition that average North Carolinains are all for their idea. You’ve heard their mantra: “Public opinion polls show that large majorities support voter ID. This isn’t even a controversial idea for most people.” One prolific Republican tweeter had this to say earlier this morning:

“Polls consistently show 70% of NC in favor of voter ID. Calling all those people racist? Not brilliant.”

How’s that for preemptive spin manipulation?  People who oppose mandatory photo ID for voting are calling the proponents “racists”??

This is, of course, hogwash.

First of all, Read More

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With the in-state news so universally dreadful this week, a body is forced to look elsewhere to find some shreds of hope.

Here’s at least one non-NC item that might even portend something good for our state: Today, President Obama appointed an excellent lawyer named Jane Kelley to the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. As you may or may not already know, the Eighth Circuit is headquartered in Kansas City and covers seven Midwestern states: Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Here’s another fact about the Eighth Circuit: In the history of that court, there have been 57 justices. Of that number, 56 have been men. We’re not making this up. 

The President’s selection of Kelly will make it two out of 58 — still awful, but, hey, 3.4% is better than 1.8%. It’s a start, anyway.

And what is the implication for North Carolina, you ask? Read More

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In case you missed it over the weekend, the Sunday New York Times included the following editorial specifically urging Governor Perdue to pardon the Wilmington 10:

Before leaving office next month, Gov. Bev Perdue of North Carolina should finally pardon the Wilmington 10, a group of civil rights activists who were falsely convicted and imprisoned in connection with a racial disturbance in the city of Wilmington more than 40 years ago. The convictions, based on flimsy evidence and perjured testimony, were overturned by a federal court in 1980. But by then, the lives of the convicted had been broken on the wheel of Jim Crow justice.

Wilmington was experiencing a bitter civil rights struggle in 1971 when a white-owned grocery store in a black neighborhood was firebombed. The police officers and firefighters who arrived to extinguish the flames came under gunfire. Nine black men and one white woman were railroaded to jail in connection with the event.

Years later, both the prosecutor and the state trial court were denounced in a blistering ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va.   Read More