Civil Liberties

Perhaps because of the large number of outspoken and thoughtful people in our community, we have often found ourselves at ground zero in battles over civil liberties. In the 1980's Chapel Hill elected the first openly-gay elected official in the state, but Carrboro bested that by electing North Carolina’s first out mayor a decade later.

More recently, Chapel Hill grappled with free speech issues in the wake of 9/11, approved and then dismantled red light cameras in 2003-4, and was challenged by fundamentalists over support for gay marriage in 2005.

Guns over Franklin

I just sent the following to the Mayor and Town Council of Chapel Hill. It somewhat re-hashes my previous comments here on OP, so I'm not going to front-page it, but wanted it to be on the record.

I was extremely disappointed to see the Town handle the anarchist break-in at the Yates Building so poorly after working so well with the activists at Occupy Chapel Hill/Carrboro for the past month. What happened last weekend played into every simplistic anarcho-fantasy about jack-booted thugs violently protecting the wealthy. That's not the Chapel Hill we know, but there is a vocal group of residents that now may never believe otherwise.

I'm undecided about Jim Neal's specific proposal for an independent commission to study the events of last weekend. Do we really have to empanel a committee to tell us what almost everyone knows (at least in retrospect), which is that the police action was unnecessarily forceful and overly broad? However, I very much want and need some clearer answers from the Town of Chapel Hill.

Public hearing on Carrboro's Anti-Loitering Ordinance

A message from Steve Dear:

Thank you again for your endorsement of the Carrboro Leader Letter calling on the town to rescind its anti-loitering ordinance regarding the corner of Jones Ferry and Davie rds.

I am writing with good news. The Board of Aldermen is holding a public hearing on Tuesday night, Nov. 22 at the town hall at 7:30 p.m. On behalf of all the people and groups involved in this effort I invite and encourage you to come to the public hearing and speak to why you oppose the ordinance.

While last month the board voted 4-3 to keep the ordinance, Mayor Chilton has since posted on the Orange Politics blog and his Facebook page that he expects the board to vote to rescind the ordinance next Tuesday night – implying that he will change his vote.

We need to keep up the friendly pressure until the ordinance is taken off the books.

Along those lines I invite you to join me and some other folks who have been going to the corner every weekday at noon for lunch and good conversation since last month. Although we are violating the ordinance and the police have driven by, clearly the powers that be have decided not to enforce the ordinance on us. Today we were joined by some of day laborers who gave us their deepest thanks for all of our work on this. They too, are going to come speak on Tuesday. I am making signs with them this weekend and they are going to post the signs in the area announcing the hearing.

So I hope to see you Monday and Tuesday at noon and, most importantly, on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Carrboro Town Hall, 301 W. Main St., Carrboro. Thanks!

 

Date: 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 7:30pm

Location: 

Carrboro Town Hall

Tim Tyson really nailed it in his commentary on the Yates arrests. "Barney Fife" vs. "Self-romanticizing hotheads"

Chapel Hill: Time for Appointment of an Independent Public Safety Review Commission

Many questions remain unanswered in regard to the Chapel Hill Police Department's deployment Sunday of a heavily-armed Special Emergency Response Team to clear a private building in Chapel Hill that had been occupied by a group of protesters. Seven people were arrested and charged with misdemeanor breaking and entering.

I submitted a petition Monday afternoon to to the Chapel Hill Town Council calling for the appointment of an independent commission to review the events leading up to yesterday's deployment of the SERT unit. Residents of Chapel Hill are divided, one camp outraged by what they deem to be an unmeasured response by a SWAT team and the other yielding to the professional judgment of the CHPD. Neither side has the facts to which the public is entitled in order understand the events that led to yesterday's display of lethal force by the Chapel Hill Police Department.

Official response from Occupy Chapel Hill/Carrboro to Sunday's police action

This press release was issued today...

The General Assembly of Occupy Chapel Hill/Carrboro, meeting at Peace and Justice Plaza, expresses outrage and disappointment at the disproportionate and disturbing use of force by the Chapel Hill Police Department.

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