Carrboro leaders have taken a stand for racial equality, while expressing outrage at President Donald Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, “and the U.S. congressional leadership that enables him.”
“We are, predictably, at yet another shameful new low, in a seven-month series of new lows,” Alderman Damon Seils posted on Twitter Wednesday. “This dangerous man is unfit to be president.”
The Board of Aldermen unanimously approved a three-page resolution later that urged citizens and local, state and UNC leaders to fight discrimination and white supremacy, and to recognize, acknowledge and undo “white privilege that perpetuates racist outcomes even in the absence of explicit white supremacist ideology.”
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“The Town of Carrboro and the greater Orange County community offers our deepest sympathy, compassion, and solidarity with the families of those injured and killed standing up for justice that day,” town officials said in a statement Thursday. “The Town of Carrboro will continue to stand with the City of Charlottesville, its residents and students in condemning the KKK, Nazi affiliates, and other white supremacists and fascists who espouse hatred, bigotry, and violence (and stood) up for justice that day.”
The resolution specifically calls on the General Assembly to repeal a 2015 law that prevents communities from taking down Confederate monuments and “other symbols of white supremacy from public spaces,” including the Silent Sam statue on UNC Chapel Hill’s campus.
State leaders also should “end their attempts to suppress voting rights” and discourage black people from voting, the resolution states, and permanently stop work on House Bill 330. The bill, approved earlier this year by the N.C. House, would give drivers immunity from civil liability if they exercise “due care” but injure protesters blocking streets.
The aldermen also took the opportunity to address the UNC Board of Governors’ plan to prohibit the UNC School of Law’s Center for Civil Rights and other institutes and centers from getting involved in litigation. The board could vote on the planned change Sept. 8.
The Town of Carrboro is committed to engaging young people, supporting anti-racism and anti-discrimination efforts, the resolution states. The town will identify and acknowledge its own “racist and white supremacist histories, and seek to find ways to memorialize, heal, and transform from that history,” it adds.
The aldermen plan to further address the issue this fall and set the next steps for racial equity work. Orange County Commissioner Penny Rich said the county commissioners could issue their own resolution soon.
Carrboro resolution on white supremacy
Here is the resolution passed by the Carrboro Board of Aldermen on Wednesday night:
Whereas, on August 12, 2017, during a demonstration in support of white supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia, nineteen counterprotesters were seriously injured and one, Heather Heyer, was brutally murdered in a related act of terrorism; and
Whereas, Virginia State Troopers H.J. Cullen and Berke Bates also were killed when their helicopter crashed in the course of monitoring the events on the ground; and
Whereas, the Town of Carrboro and the greater Orange County community shares much in common culturally and historically with the City of Charlottesville as Southern places that continue to struggle with both visible and systemic markers of racism and white supremacy, including flags, statues, names of streets and buildings, and most importantly, disparate social, educational and economic outcomes for people of color in our communities; and
Whereas, the Town of Carrboro offers our deepest sympathy, compassion, and solidarity to the families of those injured and killed, those who stood up for justice that day, and the larger Charlottesville community; and
Whereas, the Town of Carrboro cherishes these among many words of the honorable Nelson Mandela: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite;” and
Whereas, the Town of Carrboro strives to be an inclusive community that champions diversity, embraces its immigrant community, respects sexual and gender identity, makes room for all faiths, pursues racial equity, and rejects hatred, violence, and terrorism; and
Whereas, we are grateful to the Carrboro residents who demonstrated these values and placed themselves at risk by joining in the antiracist, antifascist counterdemonstrations in Charlottesville; and
Whereas, the Town of Carrboro will continue to stand with the City of Charlottesville, its residents and students in condemning the KKK, Nazi affiliates, and other white supremacists and fascists who espouse hatred, bigotry, and violence; and
Whereas, the Town of Carrboro recognizes that the legacies of the past are still firmly rooted in the present, and by examining, telling, and knowing history we stand the best chance for change; and
Now Therefore be it resolved that the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the Town of Carrboro reaffirm our commitment to a just, equitable community free of racism, hatred and bigotry and, in doing so, we hereby:
1) Commit to engage diverse young people in Carrboro through the Youth Advisory Board, YouthWorx on Main, NAACP Youth Council, El Centro Hispano, and other organizations, and to enable and support youth centered anti-racism and anti-discrimination strategies, including activities that promote positive leadership and conflict resolution skills, inclusionary decision-making, and the creation and protection of public spaces that are free from racial and other forms of intimidation;
2) Call on the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal the Cultural History Artifact Management and Patriotism Act of 2015 (Session Law 2015-170), so that communities throughout North Carolina may begin the work of removing Confederate monuments and other symbols of white supremacy from public spaces, including the removal of Silent Sam from the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill;
3) Call on the North Carolina Senate to permanently park “House Bill 330, CivPro/Qualified Immunity for Auto Accident,” which was passed by the House 67-48 on April 27, 2017, and which would provide drivers “exercising due care” immunity from civil liability for injury caused to demonstrators or protestors blocking traffic in a public street or highway;
4) Call on the Republican leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly to end their attempts to suppress voting rights, including voter ID measures, sham investigations of voter fraud, racially motivated gerrymandering, and other efforts designed to discourage and prevent black people from voting;
5) Urge that, on September 8, 2017, the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina reject the recommendation of the Committee on Educational Planning, Policies and Programs that would prohibit the UNC School of Law’s Center for Civil Rights and similar institutes and centers from joining or initiating litigation, including that which would protect and ensure equal protection and justice for communities of color, religious minorities, and other North Carolinians in the face of an increasingly aggressive environment;
6) Express our outrage at President Donald J. Trump for his dismissal of national outrage about this tragedy, as well as U.S. Congressional leadership that enables him, for continuing to support the advancement of policies that discriminate, disenfranchise, and otherwise damage the safety, health and livelihoods of people of color, women, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, Muslims, Jews and other religious minorities; and for myriad lies, endorsements, outbursts, unethical behavior and illegal legislative tactics, all of which exemplify and embolden white supremacy, bigotry, racism, anti-semitism, and fascism and threaten both our democracy and the planet;
7) Encourage all residents of the Town of Carrboro to work together to fight racism, hatred, and bigotry, and to recognize, acknowledge and undo white privilege that perpetuates racist outcomes even in the absence of explicit white supremacist ideology;
8) Seek ways to identify and acknowledge Carrboro’s own racist and white supremacist histories, and seek to find ways to memorialize, heal, and transform from that history.
9) Thank the Orange County School Board for altering the system-wide dress code to prohibit “items that are reasonably expected to intimidate other students on the basis of race (for example KKK, swastika, and the Confederate Flag).”
Be it further resolved that this resolution be forwarded to the Chapel Hill Town Council, Hillsborough Board of Commissioners, Orange County Board of Commissioners, the Boards of Education for the Orange County Schools and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, N.C. Senator Valerie Foushee, and N.C. Representative Verla Insko.