Saturday News: Take them all down

PROTESTERS PULL DOWN TWO CONFEDERATE STATUES IN RALEIGH: Protesters pulled down the bronze soldiers on the 75-foot Confederate monument at the state Capitol Friday night, then hung the statue of a cavalryman by its neck from a streetlight. The other statue, an artilleryman, was dragged through the streets to the Wake County courthouse, and later carried away by police in a golf cart. At one point, a protester pressed a knee into the neck of the statue at the courthouse, a reference to George Floyd, who died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer took the same position for more than eight minutes. Protesters put a Black Lives Matter sign listing the names of black people killed by police on the statue’s chest. Earlier in the day, groups convened in Raleigh and Durham to celebrate Juneteenth, the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, and to remind politicians that demands for true equality for African Americans remain unmet.

SENATE REPUBLICANS PASS CONTENTIOUS BILLS IN FRIDAY SESSION: The Senate packed a week's worth of bills into a rare Friday session, passing the following bills and sending them to the House: A measure that would prevent cities from denying permits to civic groups wanting to hold a Fourth of July parade or fireworks display at any time July 1-10, regardless of the coronavirus pandemic. Yet another reopening bill. Fairs and carnivals were tacked onto the measure, which earlier was aimed at allowing amusement parks, wedding venues and other entertainment businesses to resume operations despite pandemic-related closure orders. Legislation that would allow people with concealed carry permits to be armed in churches that hold services inside school buildings. Cooper vetoed another reopening bill dealing with gyms and bars. He said infections and hospitalizations continue to trend in the wrong direction, and officials need to be able to respond quickly during the crisis.

RESTAURANT IN THOM TILLIS CAMPAIGN AD THE TARGET OF RACIAL BIAS LAWSUIT: The ad features Tillis walking through a restaurant kitchen talking about how he started his career as a short order cook and then sitting at a table in Jeffrey’s Restaurant in Mooresville with owner Jeff Lancaster. Lancaster also owns Lancaster’s BBQ in Mooresville. Lancaster is expected to be in federal court in Statesville next month for a trial that could determine whether his barbecue restaurant is liable in a racial discrimination case brought by a former employee. The case was brought in 2018 by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Tillis campaign said the senator did not know Lancaster or know about the EEOC suit. His restaurant was chosen because it was convenient, the campaign said. The former Lancaster’s employee, Shana Knox, who is black, alleges that a white co-worker repeatedly called her the n-word and then, according to the suit, “doused her face and chest with hot barbeque sauce and hit her with a metal pan.”

ACE SPEEDWAY LAWYER ARGUES PANDEMIC "GERM" IS NOT A STATE OF EMERGENCY: An attorney for the owners of Alamance County race track Ace Speedway on Friday argued against the validity of a gubernatorial order that keeps large numbers of fans from viewing live races. “A state of emergency does not currently exist,” said Chuck Kitchen, the lawyer representing Ace. “The governor can declare a state or emergency, but you can review it and that’s what we’re asking.” The man he was asking to rule on the governor’s COVID-19 responses, Judge Tom Lambeth, told Kitchen and lawyers representing the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services he would not rule until June 24 on whether the state can restrict the Altamahaw track to having 25 spectators. In the meantime, a temporary restraining order stands. Ace already had canceled its races that previously had been scheduled for Friday night. The COVID-19 pandemic is certainly serious, said Kitchen, calling it a “bad germ,” at the hearing in the Alamance County Commissioners’ meeting room on Friday. But the potential or expectation of bad things does not make an emergency under the law.

BLACK LEADERS IN TULSA ARE ANGRY AT TRUMP OVER TIMING OF RALLY: When Turner heard that Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) had offered to give Trump a tour of the historic Greenwood district, where as many as 300 black residents were slaughtered, he was furious. “We are not doing tours,” he said. “Juneteenth is our community holiday.” At the behest of Stitt and others, Trump changed the date of the rally, which will be held at the 19,000-seat BOK Center, from Friday (the Juneteenth holiday) to Saturday. But for Turner and other black leaders, it wasn’t enough. Civil rights activists say vestiges of the attack on Greenwood — where white mobs targeted a wealthy, black community nicknamed Black Wall Street — have not been dealt with. Possible mass graves for the victims are still being investigated. Calls for reparations for descendants have gone unheeded. And the push to put Greenwood on the National Register of Historic Places has dragged on for years. African American leaders in Tulsa have planned two days of socially distanced outdoor festivities for Juneteenth, Turner said, and many plan to avoid Trump’s rally and protests outside the arena. Historian J. Kavin Ross, a photojournalist who has documented stories of people who survived the race massacre, said the rally could further divide the city along racial lines. “We know he is coming to divide us,” Ross said. “I think Donald Trump’s visits to hot racial hotbeds around the country are obviously a direct and deliberate attempt to rally up his base. That is not needed at this time when we are dealing with unemployment. It’s the wrong time because of Juneteenth. It’s the wrong time because it’s the 99th observation of the Tulsa Massacre, and it’s the wrong time because we are in the midst of covid.”