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By Mike Meno, Communications Director of the ACLU of North Carolina

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil rights lawsuit against Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson yesterday, charging that under his direction, the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) has systematically and unlawfully targeted Latino residents for investigation, traffic stops, arrests, seizures, and other enforcement actions since at least 2007. The lawsuit asks a federal court to order Sheriff Johnson to refrain from discriminatory policing and for the ACSO to adopt and implement policies that would constitutionally protect and serve all county residents.

The ACLU and other groups have been receiving complaints about Johnson, his deputies, and their treatment of Latinos for years. But some of the alleged examples of Sheriff Johnson’s own prejudice and policing style outlined in yesterday’s lawsuit – which resulted from a two-year investigation and interviews with more than 100 witnesses – are truly shocking.

Among them:

-“In a staff meeting … in January 2007, Defendant Johnson yelled “bring me some Mexicans!” while banging his fists on the table.” Read More

The North Carolina NAACP renewed its call for gubernatorial pardons in the infamous “Wilmington 10″ case again today and the evidence they advanced in support of the demand was disturbing and compelling.

The following is from a release that accompanied this morning’s press conference:

RALEIGH – Newly discovered racist jury profiling by the Pender County Prosecutor Jay Stroud, shows shocking racial hostility toward prospective Black jurors. In his first effort to select a jury to convict ten young activists who had been charged with burning a Wilmington store, District Attorney Stroud ended up with ten Blacks and two Whites. Stroud felt “sick,” and asked for a mistrial. The judge agreed, and the trial was rescheduled for Pender County. Stroud got a list of about 100 prospective jurors, and he wrote racial comments beside most of their names.

 “We rarely get such direct evidence of prosecutorial racism in jury selection,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the North Carolina NAACP. Read More

A couple of powerful stories at The Nation deserve your attention this morning.

In the first, Rick Perlstein examines a 1981 recorded interview with the late Lee Atwater (now released publicly for the first time as part of the article) in which the old conservative henchman for the Reagan-Bush administrations explained the evolution of white southern racism in some rather disturbing terms. The conclusion: Atwater’s clumsy and offensive attempts to deny the persistence of racism only confirmed its still-powerful grip on white southerners.

In the second, Ari Berman explains the folly of the Supreme Court’s current flirtation (explained here by Sharon McCloskey earlier this morning) with doing away with section 5 of the Voting Rights Act — a law reauthorized by Congress by overwhelming margins just six years ago.  To quote:

“Indeed, only a Supreme Court wholly divorced from reality would review the record on voting rights since Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 2006 and conclude that a key pillar of the law was no longer needed.”

 

No paper has more thoughtfully and consistently championed the cause of North Carolina’s long and shamefully ignored eugenics victims than the Winston Salem Journal. Much to the paper’s credit, it has consistently kept the story alive and called for justice for the thousands of people harmed by state government.

This morning, the paper has an excellent editorial in which it urges Governor Perdue to call a special session to pass compensation legislation (something that passed the House earlier this year, but that was killed by Senate Republican leaders).

In an ironic twist to the story, one of the most vocal Senate opponents of compensation, Senator Don East of Surry County, passed away unexpectedly earlier this week.

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

 

 

 

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Yesterday, Mother Jones magazine published a very disturbing story about North Carolina congressman Walter Jones. According to the story, the congressman appeared on “a notorious white nationalist radio program on Saturday” known as “The Political Cesspool.” 

The host of the show — a man named James Edwards — is, according to the story, “an avowed white nationalist.” A website for the show seems to confirm this when it says says the following: Read More