More racist attacks on Chapel Hill employee

I really can't understand the Town's seemingly mild response to racist graffiti discovered at the Town Operations Center.  Given that there have been no consequences for the previous incident, it's not surprising that the hateful vandal struck again last week.

Chapel Hill Police are investigating the first incident and have not charged anyone. Town Manager Roger Stancil has said the culprit could be fired.

-  Racist graffiti found in Chapel Hill offices, 7/10/08

How the hell does this happen? And what does the manager mean "the culprit could" be fired? Under what circumstances would you not fire an employee who publicly directs hate speech at another employee?


The employee is entitled to due process.  A statement from the employer in advance of a hearing that an employee "will" be fired could jeopardize the proceeding.

Not just could . . . would. There has to be the appearance and reality of impartiality and absence of prejudice (on the part of the finder of fact, if not the accused).

On the other hand, obviously someone who is creating a racially harassing workplace is going to have to go or the Town would be exposing itself to considerable potential liability under federal law.  So regardless of the manager's quotes in the paper, it seems clear what will happen if an employee is shown to have done these things.

Could the culprit be someone other than an employee?


The Public Works buildings in question aren't public-access anymore.  You have to have a badge or be escorted by an employee.  


Oh jeez, this is bathroom stall gaffitti.  How ridiculous.

It is very important to be patient. There are the famous Buddhist parables of a man being afraid of a snake he sees on a path, but when he shines his flashlight on the snake he finds it was only a rope.

 There are several scenarios I could imagine as to who wrote the graffiti; from it being written by a white racist, to it being written by the victim himself. It could have even been written by a nun!

From all the articles I have read it sounds like it is being investigated. Let's be driven by our facts and not by our assumptions. And let's respond with compassion instead of fear.


"How the hell does this happen? And what does the manager mean "the culprit could" be fired? Under what circumstances would you not fire an employee who publicly directs hate speech at another employee?"


Answer:  How about if the culprit is not discovered?  Let's not read into the manager's words too much because he's only doing his job.  If he said "the culprit will be fired" and the "culprit" is not found, then he would be speaking an untruth.

The following is from the Chapel Hill eNews, a town email newsletter:
Chapel Hill to Host Community Conversation on Race

The public is invited to a community viewing and discussion of "A Class Divided" to be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 24, in the Council Chamber of Chapel Hill Town Hall. Refreshments will be provided.

Organized by the Town of Chapel Hill's Justice in Action Committee, the event is the first in a series of outreach events designed to engage the community in frank conversations about race relations in Chapel Hill.

Mayor Kevin Foy and Justice in Action Committee Chair André Wesson will make welcoming remarks. Dr. Jan Boxill, director of the UNC Parr Center for Ethics, will help facilitate the discussion following the viewing of the documentary film.

"Class Divided" is an encore presentation of the classic documentary on third-grade teacher Jane Elliott's "blue eyes-brown eyes" exercise, originally conducted in the days following the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. The film is designed to help engage people in reflection and dialogue about the historical role of racism in the United States, as well as the role of prejudice and stereotyping.

The Justice in Action Committee was created in 2005 following the Council's approval of the renaming of Airport Road to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. In 2007, the committee adopted a new name, purpose and mission: "To adequately and effectively reflect the Town of Chapel Hill's integrity and commitment to preserving racial, economic, and social justice within the community."

Its stated goals are to recognize how we take for granted our biases and how these affect behavior; to challenge comfort zones (exposing how racism and prejudice affects all of us); to challenge ourselves to recognize our own perspectives and open ourselves up to recognize the perspectives of others; and to identify how our differences unite and bind us.

Future programs being planned by the Justice in Action Committee include a Unity in Heritage Festival in fall 2008 and a Martin Luther King Day Celebration in spring 2009.

"The success of this program and the committee's work will depend on the level of community involvement," said André Wessen, Justice in Action Committee Chair. "We welcome all input and involvement from everyone."

To learn more about this event and/or the Justice in Action Committee, contact André Wessen at (919) 843-8917 or Jan Boxill at (919) 962-3317. New members are welcomed, and applications are available on the Town of Chapel Hill website at

I think we all are missing the point when it comes to racist attacks.  The graffitti used are "just words".  If you want to explore racism, please review the hiring practices and the pay scales of government, private, and public employers.  Words are easy to use because they don't cost anything.  Paying people is another issue.

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