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Neo-Confederate groups to rally in Pittsboro this weekend

George Randall of the League of the South at a rally in Pittsboro in September (Photo by Daniel Hosterman)

A number of Neo-Confederate groups plan to rally in Pittsboro on Saturday to protest the Chatham County Board of Commissioners’ decision to remove a Confederate monument from in front of the county courthouse.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is warning that a number of potentially dangerous groups will be among those demonstrating.

From the SPLC:

Some of the entities listed below are SPLC-designated hate groups, while others are considered “heritage,” paleo-libertarian or “constitutional” groups. All of these groups openly embrace neo-Confederate principles, opting to glorify the darker parts of American history.

  • League of the South (LOS) is an SPLC-designated hate group that positioned itself as the primary defender of the Confederate battle flag after the June 17, 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners at Charleston, South Carolina’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Additionally, SPLC’s Hatewatch blog recently linked LOS to what began as a small Facebook campaign designed to keep Confederate monuments in place. The group quickly grew to more than 200 ardent, secretive separatists planning to make the South a separate nation.
  • The Hiwaymen will participate according to an October 13 Facebook rant by one of its most vocal members, Billy Sessions. The Hiwaymen are a reactionary right-wing group that flock to various far-right protests, often focusing on large, well-publicized rallies like the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August, 2017 and an August, 2018 far-right rally in Portland, Oregon.
  • The Virginia Flaggers who, after the Chatham County Commissioner’s statue decision, erected a Confederate flag across the street from a middle school named after a North Carolina slave. The Flaggers joined a number of organizations that protested retailers, county and state governments removing Confederate emblems and merchandise after Dylann Roof killed nine African American church members in South Carolina in 2015.
  • ACTBAC North Carolina is a pro-Confederate group the SPLC listed as a hate group in 2016 and 2017. While not currently listed as a hate group, ACTBAC NC has been a fixture at the Pittsboro demonstrations, and along with the Virginia Flaggers, have erected three Confederate banners in the Pittsboro area.

League of the South member Jessica Reavis was arrested at a previous rally in Pittsboro on October 5  and charged with carrying a concealed gun and carrying a concealed weapon.

The anti-racist group Chatham Takes Action has announced a counter-protest mach from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“On Saturday, the community will come together for a march, rally, and community meal, where we will affirm that Pittsboro is No Place For Hate,” the group said in a press release this week. “In partnership with organizers across the region, including those who organized the Hate Free Hillsborough march and rally, we intend to make a show of strength and power in the face of yet another Confederate/white supremacist rally planned for the same day.”

The march will go from Main Street Station on East Street around the Historic County Courthouse and to the Blair Building lot, according to the group.

Armed Ku Klux Klan members demonstrated in Hillsborough in late August, where they were quickly outnumbered by counter-protesters.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced they would arrest KKK members who carried guns at the demonstration but as of this week no arrests have been made.

News

Another lobbyist nominated for UNC Board of Governors seat

Next week the N.C. House Rules committee will consider a replacement for Rob Bryan, who is exiting the UNC Board of Governors to take Dan Bishop’s seat in the N.C. Senate.

The nominee for the seat, Reginald R. Holley, is a politically well-connected Republican from Brunswick County. He served as Deputy State Director for former U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole and is a former Director of the State Youth Council for the North Carolina State Department of Administration.

Reginald R. Holley

He is also a registered lobbyist. That isn’t unique on the board — five other members are current or former lobbyists (Tom Fetzer, Thom Goolsby, Darrell Allison, Pearl Burris-Floyd and David Powers).

For the 2019 term, Holley’s clients include Partners for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, Inc., a conservative “school choice” organization that has pushed for expanding private school vouchers in the state.

Partners for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, Inc. is part of a well funded triad of organizations — along with Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina and North Carolina Citizens for Freedom in Education IE PAC — that have shared the same Raleigh address and and staff members. Until last year Board of Governors member Darrell Allison was president of the Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, for which Holley also lobbied.

Holley’s 2019 term clients also include the Carolina Small Business Development Fund, Judd K. Roth Real Estate Development, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association and CT Solutions LLC.

Holley has also lobbied for the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, Citizens for Community Action NC and the North Carolina Bail Agents Association.

House Minority Leader Darren Jackson (D-Wake) took to twitter to criticize the nomination the method by which UNC board of governors members are chosen.

News

ECU Trustees chair on interim chancellor: “no doors closed”

Like the rest of the East Carolina University community, ECU Board of Trustees Chairman Vern Davenport is waiting on the UNC System to make a decision on whether it will retain interim chancellor Dan Gerlach.

At the end of last month Gerlach was filmed and photographed playing drinking games, dancing and socializing with students in a bar near campus. Several photos showed him hugging or putting his arm around young women in a way some found inappropriate.

Gerlach, who had hoped to be made the school’s next permanent chancellor, was placed on administrative leave “pending further investigation.”

Vern Davenport, Chairman of the ECU Board of Trustees

That investigation is still ongoing, Davenport said in an interview with Policy Watch this week, with the ultimate decision resting with UNC System Interim President Bill Roper.

“I would say this is obviously sitting squarely in Dr. Roper’s camp,” Davenport said. “I communicate with Dr. Roper almost every day on this subject. I support on Dr. Roper in this investigation.”

“It’s in Dan’s best interest and the entire East Carolina community’s best interest that a thorough investigation be done and I expect it to be concluded quickly,” Davenport said. “Which direction it’s going… I have no comment on that. But I do support he process that we’re going through.”

Davenport had praise for the job Gerlach has done as interim chancellor generally.

“He’s done a great job of engaging with staff, students and the community, leveraging his personality,” Davenport said. “Pirate Nation has valued that and appreciates that.”

He also acknowledged — as Gerlach has himself — that the incident didn’t show good judgement.

“I think Dan would probably say he stayed too long,” Davenport said of Gerlach’s evening at the bar. “Clearly we don’t want to be in the situation we’re in.”

Asked if Gerlach will still be a candidate as ECU searches for its next permanent leader, Davenport said that will depend on the outcome of the investigation.

“I don’t think any doors have been closed,” Davenport said. “I think we have to see what the investigation comes out with.”

Either way, Davenport said, ECU is now beginning its search process.

“That process is starting as we speak and my objective is to conclude it before students return to school next fall,” Davenport said. “We’re anxious to get this particular chapter closed.”

 

 

News

Study illuminates reality of sexual assault at UNC-Chapel Hill

The results of this year’s Association of American Universities’ (AAU) Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct include stats that paint a disturbing picture of those very serious issues at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Almost 6,000 students at UNC’s flagship campus participated in the study, which sought “to gain understanding of the general climate on campuses across the country regarding sexual assault, sexual harassment, intimate partner (relationship) violence and stalking.”

Among the results:

  • 20.7 percent of all respondents reported experiencing sexual touching or penetration involving physical force; inability to consent or stop what was happening because the student was passed out, asleep or incapacitated due to drugs or alcohol; coercion or without a voluntary agreement.
  • 15.4 percent of all respondents reported experiencing sexual touching alone that included the same factors
  • 11.2 percent of all respondents experiencing sexual penetration alone that included the same factors.

The group most likely to report these experiences were undergraduate women in their fourth year or higher (45 percent). Undergraduate women respondents in general made up 35 percent of those who reported such experiences.

The next highest category was students who identify as transgender men or women, nonbinary, questioning or who did not list a gender identity. More than 26 percent of undergraduate students in that category reported sexual touching or penetration without consent — and more than 29 percent in that category who are fourth year or higher undergraduate students.


Read a breakdown of the full study here.

News

Rep. Deb Butler to receive LGBTQ leadership award

State Rep. Deb Butler (D-Brunswick) will be awarded the 2019 Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award, the Victory Institute announced this week.

Rep. Deb Butler

The international award recognizes lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender elected officials whose political career advances equality for LGBTQ people, according to the institute.

Butler will share the award with former Peruvian Congressman Alberto de Belaunde. Balaunde served in the Peruvian Congress until its president dissolved Parliament in late September.

Butler will be presented with the award at the International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. next month.

Nominees for the award included LGBTQ elected officials from Maryland, Colorado, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin.

The Victory Institute cited Butler’s dramatic opposition to last month’s surprise veto override vote on the budget in the N.C. House.

“As the Democratic Whip of the North Carolina House, Deb Butler is a warrior for North Carolina’s LGBTQ community,” the institute wrote of Butler. “Under the rallying cry of ‘I Will Not Yield,; Butler recently derided Republicans’ underhanded voting tactics, even resisting arrest to pursue justice. During her time in the House, she has fought for causes ranging from fair districts to common sense gun reform.”