scharrison's blog

Voter suppression lawsuit filed after pepper-spraying incident

Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson is headed to court:

Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson is now a defendant in three lawsuits over the treatment of protesters in downtown Graham and he is not alone. Graham’s new police chief, Kristy Cole, is also a defendant in two of those suits, as is Alamance County. The City of Graham is still fighting at least one.

Allen v. City of Graham was filed Nov. 2 on behalf of three people and a group called Future Alamance at the now notorious police crackdown on the Oct. 31 “I am Change” march in downtown Graham.

Both County and City (Graham) leaders are responsible for this international embarrassment, and they have nobody to blame but themselves. The march was peaceful, the group had permission ahead of time, but officers started tearing down their sound system the very second (they thought) the time had expired. Just itching for a confrontation. And of course camouflage fatigues and machine guns were sported by some of Terry Johnson's little army. All that said, the voter suppression thing is going to be tough to prove:

Along with Trump, Louis DeJoy needs to go to jail

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Make no mistake, this is election fraud, and a violation of the Constitution:

More than 150,000 ballots were caught in U.S. Postal Service processing facilities and not delivered by Election Day, agency data shows, including more than 12,000 in five of the states that have yet to be called for either President Trump or Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.

Despite assurances from Postal Service leaders that agency officials were conducting daily sweeps for misplaced ballots, the mail service acknowledged in a court filing Thursday that thousands of ballots had not been processed in time, and that more ballots were processed Wednesday than on Election Day.

Get that? Trump is ranting about late votes, and Tweeting, "STOP COUNTING!" while DeJoy was (is) holding ballots hostage until after Election day. When a judge first ordered the Postal Service to begin sweeps of postal facilities 7 days ago, they (DeJoy) ignored the order. They barely lifted a finger on Monday, and even Tuesday (Election Day). Then they started sweeping (in earnest) on Wednesday. That demonstrates (clearly) the intent to delay and obstruct the votes of tens of thousands of citizens, regardless of lame rationalizations:

The battle against Gerrymandering in NC continues

And once again the courts are our only refuge:

The Republicans' majorities give them the power next year to redraw state and congressional district maps for the next decade based on 2020 census figures. Republicans also controlled the last round of redistricting, in the 2010s. The maps they drew landed them in court multiple times after Democrats challenged them, and judicial rulings declaring illegal gerrymanders forced redraws in 2017 and 2019. The governor's veto power doesn't extend to the maps.

There is literally nothing to stop Republicans from pulling the same crap they did back in 2011. Meaning, they could (and probably will) draw the maps to give themselves Veto-proof majorities in the General Assembly once again, subverting the 2022 Election. It's like almost climbing out of a deep pit, but sliding back down to the bottom again. We must use the courts to force transparency of every single aspect of the redistricting process; every piece of data they plan to use and every jagged line on a map. No "trust the process," no "benefit of the doubt." They can't be trusted, and they must be doubted.

Racism and segregation are alive and well in Suburbia

Not in my back yard, build it somewhere else:

“We built our brand-new home here because we worked hard to become residents of New Berlin — not because we got a handout, not because somebody paved the way for us,” one woman said.

One man described seeing an increase in crime when a “lower-income element” moved into his former Milwaukee neighborhood. “You put this low-income housing into this part of the city,” he said, and “I guarantee you this is what you’re inviting into our community.” At least one resident wrote a letter teasing at fears that her city would turn into the North Side of Milwaukee, which is predominantly Black.

I don't care what state you're living in, or if you're urban, suburban, exurban, or even (especially?) rural. Nothing brings out the NIMBY more than new development. I've been on our Town's Planning Board for about six years now. The first three years were non-eventful, we went about 5 months one time with no meetings. But the last three years have been nothing short of brutal. We've had citizens yell at us, glare at us, question our integrity, and throughout there has been a near-constant undercurrent of racism. It is often couched in "property value" arguments, but it is there, nonetheless. And none of our proposed developments received (or even asked for) government subsidies or other enticements:

T'was the night before Election, and all through the (U.S.) House...

Gerry Mander is not as strong as he was:

The GOP’s current 10-3 advantage relied on concentrating Democratic voters into some districts and splitting Democratic strongholds in others, a strategy known as “cracking and packing.” North Carolina’s new districts, now much more unpacked and uncracked than the previous iteration, all but assures a two-seat Democratic gain in districts centered in the Triangle and Triad, making the partisan split at least 8-5.

Whether the outcome this year stays 8-5 or results in further gains for Democrats hinges on a presidential race in a state with shifting demographics and a history of bouncing between parties on top of the ticket races.

Picking up (at least) two more seats in our Congressional Delegation is something positive to chew on these days. But I get an even bigger warm fuzzy knowing that North Carolina is actively defending or even growing the Democratic majority in the U.S. House. We are moving progress forward, not just helplessly watching from the fringe. That two seat gain is a victory we shouldn't take for granted, even if we fall short on these (three) other seats:

Environmental justice should be one of your top five priorities

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At the intersection of pollution and socioeconomic despair:

We can see the through lines between climate change, polluting industries, and COVID-19 at North Carolina’s numerous factory farms. These farms, which can contain millions of hogs, chickens, and turkeys, struggle to keep hazardous animal waste pits called “lagoons” from repeatedly washing away due to hurricane flooding. Toxic animal waste pollutes river basins and streams, and flows into the Atlantic Ocean, creating algal blooms that harm aquatic ecosystems. In addition, some of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in our area are with Black and Brown factory farm workers who’ve been denied proper protective equipment. Separately, factory farms, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic are all extremely dangerous; but combined, lagoons overflowed by hurricanes and the poor working conditions that sicken workers are killing people, the economy, and the ecosystem.

These problems simply cannot be fixed from the top-down. Zoning is one of the major factors in environmental injustice, and that is (for the most part) a local government function. Zoning maps that were created in the 20th Century are usually only updated every ten years or so, and those updates are "tweaks," mostly focused on expanding population. The inequities built into that system (industrial zones near black neighborhoods) rarely come under scrutiny, and the refusal to zone in unincorporated areas by county commissioners is even worse. It's a major health problem for communities of color, and has gotten worse since the NIH studied it 20 years ago:

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