END NO-KNOCK WARRANTS, BAN POLICE NECK HOLDS NOW: This is no time for government paralysis by analysis. It is time for North Carolina’s mayors and municipal leaders to send a message to their communities by taking immediate action. North Carolina’s municipal leaders need to act now and order their police forces to end the use of no-knock warrants and prohibit all neck holds. They need to show they are in command of their communities and they are in touch with the concerns and legitimate demands of their citizens. They need, as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo explained on Monday, a reform agenda and to then implement it. “The protestors are making a point. And most of them are making a smart, sensible point. But you have to add the positive reform agenda that every voice calls for so the government, the politicians know what to do. And there is a positive reform agenda here. There should be a national ban on excessive force by police officers. There should be a national ban on chokeholds.”
DONALD TRUMP CARES MORE ABOUT HIS CONVENTION THAN NC'S HEALTH. GOOD RIDDANCE: For those who’ve long wanted Charlotte to rid itself of the 2020 Republican National Convention, Donald Trump’s tweets on it Tuesday were a strong reminder why. The president packed a lot of wrong into a handful of words. He said N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper refused to guarantee Republicans “use of the Spectrum Arena,” which was untrue. He said the governor was “still in Shelter-In-Place Mode,” which isn’t accurate. He said, finally, that he was forced to seek another home for his convention “because of @NC_Governor.” That’s wrong. Charlotte losing the convention — or at least the big events associated with it — is not about a Republican president vs. a “Democrat governor,” as Trump has called Cooper more than once. It isn’t about any of the ideological things the president and his supporters might like it to be about. It’s about public health. That’s it. Roy Cooper wanted to protect the health of North Carolinians. Donald Trump was thinking about himself. To guarantee Trump his triumphant final-night convention moment three months before it happens, while COVID-19 metrics are still rising in our state and with little sense of the landscape in August, would have been a dereliction of duty for Cooper.
KEEP UP MOMENTUM TO SPREAD BROADBAND TO ALL NC STUDENTS: Without a doubt, this pandemic and the severe and sudden disruption it has caused across all sectors of our country has brought to the forefront the reality of just how central technology has become to the everyday life of not only adults but our K-12 students as well. In the early days of technology, it was all about the software and devices -- and the power they offered to run programs and increase productivity. Today, while the power of the device and the software still matter, it’s equally essential that the basic infrastructure for network connectivity across our state provides for high-speed internet capabilities that are available to every student across North Carolina, so that every child can have an equitable opportunity to be fully engaged in their classes and academic work. Unfortunately, we know that when this crisis took hold, approximately 40% of households, or 197,000 students lacked access to high-speed broadband internet, presenting a formidable challenge to accessing a sound basic education during COVID-19.
THE MILITARY MUST NEVER BE USED TO VIOLATE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: As former leaders in the Defense Department — civilian and military, Republican, Democrat and independent — we all took an oath upon assuming office “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” as did the president and all members of the military, a fact that Gen. Milley pointed out in a recent memorandum to members of the armed forces. We are alarmed at how the president is betraying this oath by threatening to order members of the U.S. military to violate the rights of their fellow Americans. Beyond being unnecessary, using our military to quell protests across the country would also be unwise. This is not the mission our armed forces signed up for: They signed up to fight our nation’s enemies and to secure — not infringe upon — the rights and freedoms of their fellow Americans. In addition, putting our servicemen and women in the middle of politically charged domestic unrest risks undermining the apolitical nature of the military that is so essential to our democracy. It also risks diminishing Americans’ trust in our military — and thus America’s security — for years to come. As defense leaders who share a deep commitment to the Constitution, to freedom and justice for all Americans, and to the extraordinary men and women who volunteer to serve and protect our nation, we call on the president to immediately end his plans to send active-duty military personnel into cities as agents of law enforcement, or to employ them or any another military or police forces in ways that undermine the constitutional rights of Americans. The members of our military are always ready to serve in our nation’s defense. But they must never be used to violate the rights of those they are sworn to protect.
THE POLICE ARE RIOTING. WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT: If we’re going to speak of rioting protesters, then we need to speak of rioting police as well. No, they aren’t destroying property. But it is clear from news coverage, as well as countless videos taken by protesters and bystanders, that many officers are using often indiscriminate violence against people — against anyone, including the peaceful majority of demonstrators, who happens to be in the streets. Rioting police have driven vehicles into crowds, reproducing the assault that killed Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. They have surrounded a car, smashed the windows, tazed the occupants and dragged them out onto the ground. Clad in paramilitary gear, they have attacked elderly bystanders, pepper-sprayed cooperative protesters and shot “nonlethal” rounds directly at reporters, causing serious injuries. In Austin, Texas, a 20-year-old man is in critical condition after being shot in the head with a “less-lethal” round. Across the country, rioting police are using tear gas in quantities that threaten the health and safety of demonstrators, especially in the midst of a respiratory disease pandemic. None of this quells disorder. Everything from the militaristic posture to the attacks themselves does more to inflame and agitate protesters than it does to calm the situation and bring order to the streets. In effect, rioting police have done as much to stoke unrest and destabilize the situation as those responsible for damaged buildings and burning cars. But where rioting protesters can be held to account for destruction and violence, rioting police have the imprimatur of the state. What we’ve seen from rioting police, in other words, is an assertion of power and impunity. In the face of mass anger over police brutality, they’ve effectively said So what?
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
REV. JAMES SMITH: IT'S TIME FOR WHITE PEOPLE TO STEP UP: I have served as pastor of Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Bahama for 29 years. I have preached and worshiped at fellow white minister’s churches and they’ve preached at mine, so there is much harmony, love and concern for each other. But this is a moment where I must ask my white counterparts to step up to the plate. They don’t need to call any black minister or any other black person to ask what they can do to help. Rather, they should just step up to the plate and say what they are going to do to enhance the plight of black and brown people right here in the city and county of Durham. I marched and went to jail in the ‘60s. Black and brown people shouldn’t have to go through this over and over to receive justice and equality. This moment in Durham can be ours together if we would just acknowledge that we can do more. It’s in our hands.
M. ALEXANDER CHARNS: POLICE MISCONDUCT IS INGRAINED IN OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM: Watching the news has made me weepy and enraged. For over 35 years I practiced police misconduct law, and today the problem seems no better. The law cloaks officers with qualified immunity which makes it almost impossible to win a police brutality lawsuit. In criminal court, the immunity for cops is almost total because an elected prosecutor has to have the courage to bring charges. Our white culture and police culture teach officers that they are always right. This extends to most prosecutors and many of our judges. The solution: Pass laws requiring law enforcement agencies to purchase insurance that waives all immunity defenses. Create citizen review boards with power to subpoena and discipline. Wrestle with our own racism and bias.
ANDY SILVER: POLICE REFORM REQUIRES NEW LAWS, NOT COMMENTARY: I am discouraged by news commentary simply condemning racism and calling for culture change. Police violence is systemic, as were slavery and segregation. It will not be abolished by protests or exhortations to culture change. Like slavery and segregation, it needs to be abolished by changes in law and by follow-up administrative measures to enforce the law. Police need to be held accountable. Mayors and police chiefs must have the authority to fire police officers who are obviously racist or who have engaged in repetitive misconduct. This may require restraints on police unions. There needs to be strenuous screening of police recruits to weed out racists and sociopaths. Enough pontificating! We need a police reform movement to advocate the needed legal and administrative changes explicitly in the media, in the streets, and in state legislatures and town halls.