Molly De Marco's blog
During its regular monthly meeting, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro branch of the North Carolina NAACP hosted Chief Walter Horton of the Carrboro Police Department, Chief Chris Blue of the Chapel Hill Police Department, and Sheriff Charles Blackwood for a discussion of law enforcement issues. A diverse group of more than 50 people attended, including many members of the NAACP and other local social justice advocates. Orange County commissioner and civil rights attorney Mark Dorosin, Chapel Hill Town Council member Maria Palmer, and Carrboro alderperson Damon Seils also attended.
The NAACP solicited questions in advance and posed them to each of the three law enforcement administrators in turn, and then questions were taken from the audience via index card. The questions focused on racial disparities in police stops, searches, and arrests on our streets and in our schools; the implicit bias that contributes to those disparities; de-escalation and use of force; and how to bring complaints to the attention of law enforcement.
In a previous post, I detailed the initial steps that the Carrboro and Chapel Hill Police Departments are taking to move toward racial equity in policing. But what about other local government functions?
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education has been in the news recently because of its decisions about board composition. First, in filling the vacancy left by outgoing school board member Mia Burroughs, the school board selected a wealthy, white man, one of only two white men in a field of 15 applicants, many of whom were well-qualified women and people of color. Then, they selected two white men as chair and vice chair, passing up a woman of color who has served on the board much longer than the selected vice chair.
It is clear from recent police forums and from experiences shared by people of color in our communities that we have a serious problem with racial equity in policing in Orange County. The most recent example is a guest column by Stephanie Perry in Sunday’s Chapel Hill News (12/21/14). Perry serves with me on the board of Orange County Justice United. We heard other stories like this during the Carrboro community forum on policing in October.
Law enforcement behavior that is disproportionately affecting communities of color is unacceptable to me. It is especially troubling to see that these disparities exist in our communities regardless of how enlightened we think we are. I am cautiously optimistic about the steps I see the Carrboro and Chapel Hill Police Departments taking.
Orange County elected officials and health department staff have recongized the immediate need to address poverty in our county. As a result, the Orange County Family Success Alliance has been launched, modeled on the Harlem Children's Zone. The Orange County Health Department used health and school system data to select six zones with the highest need. More information can be found here. Each zone held community meetings to glean information for their applications. They then made short presentations and fielded questions. The Family Success Alliance Advisory Council developed a rubric for scoring of the applications. Below is a collection of tweets that summarize the presentations and selection process carried out on Tuesday, December 16th.
In our semi-regular Question & Answer series, we have featured Meg McGurk, Executive Director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership and Brian Litchfield, Director of Chapel Hill Transit. The latest installment is with Robert Dowling, Executive Director of the Community Home Trust. As affordable housing discussions have been gaining prominence lately, we thought it was appropriate to learn more about the Community Home Trust.
What is the Community Home Trust?
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