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.

Celebrate localism !

As you intelligent readers know, free and fair media is essential to a funtioning democracy, and self-expression is essential to a healthy society. We are fortunate to have The People's Channel here in Chapel Hill who have been doing a great job with minimal resources to keep the airwaves open to residents for whatever we might need to say and do.

That's why I am thrilled to support their upcoming event "A Celebration of Localism" which will highlight the importance of "keeping it local" and also raise badly needed funds for The People's Channel. TPC's Director Chad Johnston has been a strong voice for independent and locally-produced media both here and at the state and national level. We're lucky to have a resources like him in our community.

I think it's great that the event being done with the support (and hosting!) of the Preservation Society. They are also about localism, but in a different way than many of us think of it. I hope to see you there!

We were lucky to know Lisa Garmon

I learned on Tuesday that our community lost a great warrior for justice and equality. Ever since I met her nearly 20 years ago, Lisa Garmon was a festive rabble-rouser and a tireless worker for what's right. She died of cancer on Tuesday.

I worked with Lisa on environmental issues, on making local media, on organizing peace and justice protests, on keeping Internationalist Books afloat, and on countless other causes. I remember her amazing energy and dependability. She was great for things like coming through with a last-minute food donation for your fundraising event. She was there for you.

Lisa was mostly a face-to-face grassroots organizer, so there's not much of an online legacy to show her work. One great testament to her is the early archives of HA!, a feirce feminist 'zine that she founded in the mid-90's. I remember working on the first issue only to hear that the printer had refused to publish it because it included penis graphics! Never mind all those female body parts, right?

Rally for local war protesters today

I've heard some folks call them the David Price Six, which has a nice ring to it. But it's also notable that Representative Price has requested to drop the charges against the six protesters who occupied his office in an effort to get him to more vigorously oppose the war.

Six local protesters go on trial this afternoon on trespassing charges in connection with an anti-war demonstration in U.S. Rep. David Price's office in February.

On March 26, the six -- Laura Bickford, Ben Carroll, Alisan Fathalizadeh, Sara Joseph, Dante Strobino, Tamara Tal -- pleaded not guilty to the charges. They had called on Price to oppose all further funding for the war and to seek an immediate withdrawal of American soldiers from Iraq.

Since then, Price has written a letter to District Attorney Jim Woodall asking him to drop the charges against the six, protester Carroll said in a release.

Prove to us you care about equality and act

The Daily Tar Heel reports that Town of Chapel Hill staff recommended to council that it "take no action on two immigration-related petitions presented to the council in February."

The State Supreme Court has ruled that public expenditures must benefit the public, not particular persons, Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos advised the council in a memo.

Karpinos also wrote that Fallahi still is able to file a claim of alleged wrongful action, which the town's insurance program would handle.

Providing "expenditures" to Sima Fallahi WILL benefit the public. The main benefit to us all is to provide meaning to words. I want to continue to believe that our Mayor and Council will do more than speak about the importance of equality in our community. They need to direct their staff not only speak of equality but to act upon it. If the police don't remember their charge Mayor and Council must repair their mistakes. Not behind the scenes. Right up front in full view.

New-and-improved Carr Mill signs

Cross posted from Light In Water.

New signs are up on the Weaver Street Lawn. (Read the back story.)



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