Monday, December 10, 2018


                                                           LESLIE MCCRAE DOWLESS
                                                       BLADEN SHERIFF JIM MCVICKER

By Cash Michaels

            The former Bladen County sheriff, an African-American Democrat, alleges not only that he lost his re-election bid in 2014 because of some of the same election fraud allegations being probed now in the Rev. Mark Harris (R)– Dan McCready (D) Ninth District congressional contest, but he also believes that race was a factor as well. 
            “Race was an issue when I first ran…,” said former Bladen Sheriff Prentis Benston, “… and it’s going to remain an issue. I don’t know when it will be over with.”
In an exclusive interview Saturday, immediately after the NC NAACP Convention in Raleigh concluded, Benston, who served from 2010-2014 as sheriff, completing a 27-year career with the department, charged that Leslie McCrae Dowless, the two-time convicted felon and political operative hired by the Mark Harris campaign to “get out the vote,” also worked for Republican Jim McVicker, the current Bladen County sheriff who unseated Benston in 2014.
            “Yes, as of the 2014 election, the absentee balloting process [was] not being done above board,” Benston replied when asked if he was a victim of election “fraud” then. That fraud allegedly involved unsealed ballots from black elderly and/or afflicted voters that could be manipulated before being turned in.
            “Certainly we have found out that [Dowless’] way of doing absentee ballots through going out and picking them up from voters (which is illegal), [along with] the improper witnessing of absentee ballots (also illegal),” Benston maintained.
Now the 2018 McVicker re-election campaign has admitted that Dowless was on their payroll again, this time to help defeat African-American Democratic challenger Hakeem Brown, a former Bladen County deputy under Benston.
            Brown has not made any public allegations yet, but the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement [SBEEE] has subpoenaed records from the McVicker re-election campaign, especially after the campaign admitted to paying Dowless $8,800 between September 2017 and September 2018, according to campaign finance records.
            Sources say whatever alleged election fraud impacted the Harris-McCready race, could have easily affected the McVicker – Brown contest too, especially if Dowless was involved. 
Sheriff McVicker defeated Brown 52-48 percent.
A Dec. 21stSBEEE hearing is scheduled that could determine whether Brown files a formal complaint in his race.
Amazingly the state BOE actually cited Dowless in 2016 with doing exactly the same thing in the Benston-McVickers race that he’s accused of doing in the Harris-McCready race now. Attorney Irv Joyner said that the state BOE referred  that evidence to the US Attorney for the Eastern District at the time, who did nothing.
“The office of sheriff is an office that requires a person to be of high standards,” Benston said, noting that Bladen Sheriff’s Dept policy prohibits its officers from associating with known felons unofficially, let alone hiring them. “Certainly, I support the investigation to remove any corruption, or corrupt individual from that position.”
In addition, African-American officials of the Bladen Improvement Association (BIA) – the nonpartisan black political action committee that endorses candidates - are bracing themselves for what they say will, once again, be unfounded accusations of election fraud from Republicans who are desperate to deflect attention on their Ninth District controversy from the national media.
            In 2016, then-Republican Gov. Pat McCrory falsely accused the BIA of mishandling absentee ballots when he was narrowly defeated by Democrat Roy Cooper. After an investigation by the state BOE, the BIA was cleared. That didn’t stop Republicans and conservative media from maintaining that because BIA accepts money from the NC Democratic Party and its members that it had to be “corrupt.” 
            Prentis Benston, who is also chair of the BIA, insists that the group has endorsed Republicans too and has operated transparently since the 1960s. And if the GOP insists on trying to smear them again per the 2018 midterms, they’re in for a surprise.
            The BIA deliberately did not engage in any absentee balloting work during the 2018 midterms, atty. Joyner revealed.
            But that fact, he says, probably won’t stop the NC Republican Party from accusing the BIA of something again.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            The only way to fight harder, and stronger for equal justice, is to “…come together and build power,” Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, fifth president of the NC NAACP said Saturday, during the State of the State of Civil Rights address at the 75thAnnual Convention in Raleigh of the NC conference of branches.
Echoing the words of the NAACP’s national board Chairman Leon Russell, Spearman told membership gathered from across the state, “…it’s time to organize and not agonize. Try as you may to find it, there is no half-way ground between right and wrong. Either the one or the other must prevail. And I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna push right with all my might.”
Dr. Spearman emphasized the need for the NCNAACP and its branches statewide to intensify their political action and community action activities “…to build a strategic year-round GOTV (get out the vote) curriculum going forward.” 
Certainly we must preach the gospel of morality and the NC NAACP has, but when your civil and political rights are being encroached upon every hour we must also preach the gospel of organization,” The NC NAACP president maintained. “People who will not organize and put themselves under the wisest and best of their leaders cannot expect other people to look after their interests.” 
Spearman also declared that the civil rights group must recommit itself to fighting voter suppression. 
“We must find ways of fostering an inclusive, informed and more resolute electorate,” he said. “This will take an approach that considers comprehensive voter outreach, education, civic engagement and community organizing and power-building. In short, we must broaden the framing of the problem of voter suppression and craft tools for fighting it. The new wave of voting restrictions demands it.” 
The NC NAACP president blasted the recent “lame duck” session of the Republican-led NC General Assembly, which convened to pass new voter photo ID legislation based on their ratified voter ID amendment that Spearman considers yet another extension of the GOP’s voter suppression efforts. 
“The NC NAACP contends that this General Assembly did not have the authority to place any amendments on the ballot by virtue that it is an unconstitutionally constituted body. It falls into the category of “usurper” government.” 
Spearman continued, “There really is nothing new under the sun here in the state of North Carolina, lest we forget the year was 1898 when Alfred Moore Waddell, the ex-congressman from black belt Wilmington, told an election evening crowd to “go to the polls tomorrow and if you find the Negro out voting, tell him to leave the polls and if he refuses, kill him, shoot him down in his tracks.” 
On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper visited the convention. The gubernatorial visit was notable because last year, then NC NAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. William Barber refused to invite the Democratic governor because he would not look into the Dontae Sharpe case, a black man supporters say was falsely convicted of a crime he did not commit.
The convention also had to be abbreviate to just a day-and-a-half because of an impending snowstorm that threatened to trap many convention attendees in Raleigh if they didn’t adjourn by 12 noon Saturday.
The convention weekend ended on a sad note. 
NCNAACP members received word Sunday of the passing of 97-year-old Rosa Nell Eaton, a plaintiff in the NC NAACP’s successful lawsuit against the Republican-led NC General Assembly and its 2013 voter photo I.D. law, which was eventually overturned by a federal court. “ While we mourn, at the same time, we celebrate. We celebrate her steadfastness and her strength. We celebrate her commitment and her conviction. We celebrate her righteousness and her resolve. What an inspiration it was to watch her lead the way for us to fight and win the monstrous voter suppression bill of all,” Dr. Spearman said in a press release Sunday. “Mother Eaton kept her eye on the prize.”

            [RALEIGH] At press time Tuesday, at least three deaths were attributed to the monster snowstorm that crippled the state Sunday and Monday. A truck driver succumbed to a heart attack while digging his rig out of the snow along Interstate 77 in Yadkin County Sunday. A woman in hospice care in Haywood County dies when her oxygen supply was cut off due to a power outage. And a driver in Charlotte was killed when a tree fell on his vehicle Sunday afternoon. Thousands of homes and businesses across the state experienced power outages, as residents had to dig out amidst upwards of 12 inches of snow.

            [CHAPEL HILL] All employees of the UNC Health Care System will, as of July 19th, earn a minimum of $15.00 per hour. The move is to “…attract and retain a talented workforce” said the system through a press release issued Tuesday. The increase is more than double the national and state minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, and will affect 9,000 employees, costing the system $15 million annually.

            [SEATTLE, WASH] The FBI is investigating an alleged attack by suspected white supremacists over the weekend on a black disc jockey at a local tavern, and one of the suspects is a white woman from Raleigh. Leah Northcraft, 25, is identified as being one of eight suspects who, according to authorities, who entered the Rec Room Bar and Grill, beat and stomped the black disc jockey as they tried to take over his equipment, calling him racial slurs in the process. They also attacked an Asian man who came to assist the DJ. Police apprehended the suspects as they attempted to get away. Court papers identify the suspects as being members of the Aryan Brotherhood.

Monday, December 3, 2018



[RALEIGH] At press time, the Republican-led NC House was debating passage of its own voter photo identification measure. The state Senate passed its version last week. The range of IDs that would be acceptable beyond a NC driver’s license include student IDs, US passports, college student IDs , and others. Some Republicans argue that the measure is too lenient, while Democrats counter that the voter fraud controversy with absentee ballots in the 9thCongressional District race are not being addressed. Once passed, the House and Senate versions will have to go to conference.

[BLADEN COUNTY] It is indeed ironic that while Republicans continue to warn of voter fraud from in-person voting – something that rarely, if at all, ever happens – the biggest voter fraud scandal in the nation, right now, involves a Republican candidate for the Ninth Congressional District seat, Rev. Mark Harris, and the accusation that an operative for Harris secured absentee ballots from black voters in Bladen County and got rid of them in an effort to skew the race against the Democratic opponent. The state Board of Elections has voted not to certify Harris’ 905 vote victory from the midterm elections, and the Wake County District Attorney’ Office, assigned to investigate major voting fraud cases statewide, is probing the matter. The NY Times, Washington Post, and all of the major network news channels are covering the story and so are the late night comedians. Congressional Democrats say Harris will not be seated until the matter is cleared up.

[WAKE] All eight black sheriffs elected to office during the 2018 midterm elections in November have been now sworn-in into office and are officially on the job. Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker took his oath Sunday evening at Elevation Baptist Church in Knightdale. On Monday, new Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead also took the oath, promising to make positive changes to the sheriff’s department to serve citizens better. In Mecklenburg County, Forsyth County, and Guilford counties, new black sheriffs also took over law and order leadership to protect their citizens. In Greenville, Pitt County made history by swearing in the state’s first ever black female sheriff ever, Paula Dance. She is also only the fifth in the entire country.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            [Editor’s Note – Our reporter was the ONLY member of the press to accompany the NCNAACP delegation to Washington last week to lobby against the Thomas Farr judicial confirmation, and was with them every step of the way as they met with two Democratic senators, and four Republican Senate staffs – including that of SC Senator Tim Scott.
            This is his EXCLUSIVE account of how the NC NAACP delegation tirelessly, but successfully, accomplished their mission.]
They were on a mission from North Carolina.
            Just after 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 28th, a bus carrying over thirty members from eleven branches of the North Carolina NAACP, made its way from Raleigh to Washington, D.C. to lobby U.S. senators not to confirm Pres. Trump’s nomination of Raleigh attorney Thomas Farr to a federal judicial bench in the state’s Eastern District.
            That district is comprised of 44 counties from Wake to New Hanover, with court held in six cities.  
The Eastern District is also home to approximately 32 percent of North Carolina’s African-American population, with 28 out of 44 counties having populations of color as high as 50 percent
            And yet, in the district’s 145-year history, there has never been an African-American to preside over a federal court there. It’s had a vacant bench for the past 11 years, and when President Barack Obama nominated two qualified black females for the post (including a former NC Supreme Court associate justice), Sen. Richard Burr (R- NC), blocked both nominations, making sure that neither candidate got even a hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
            That has always rankled North Carolina’s civil rights community, and Trump nominating Raleigh Attorney Thomas Farr in 2017 didn’t help.
            Farr was already well-known as a campaign attorney for the late segregationist Republican Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, and had been associated with the NCGOP’s so-called “ballot security” black voter suppression initiative in 1990, where over 120,000 post cards were sent to black Democrats across the state, erroneously threatening them with “five years in jail” if they were found to be voting outside of their assigned precincts.
            A federal consent degree ultimately forced the Helms campaign to stop the illegal, and racially intimidating practice
            In later years, attorney Farr carved out a reputation for defending companies against claims of racial and sexual discrimination. And after Republicans won majorities in the NC General Assembly in 2011, and later began passing voter photo ID legislation and skewed redistricting plans – Farr represented GOP legislative leaders, legally defending schemes that were later ruled unconstitutional for their apparent intent to disenfranchise black voters.
            Having a man with a racial history like Farr being confirmed to a lifetime serving on a federal bench in a judicial district where much of North Carolina’s African-American population resides, was something North Carolina’s oldest “and boldest” civil rights organization was not about to tolerate.
            Shortly after Farr initially had what amounted to a 12-minute Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and passed muster earlier this year, NCNAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman and fellow members were there lobbying against him.
            Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KTY) decided, however, to delay final confirmation vote until after the midterms, perhaps to quiet the building opposition and uproar.
            The move only gave Farr’s critics more time to do their homework, however, so that if his confirmation vote would be finally addressed by the Senate Republican majority before the current Congress ended, Spearman and the NCNAACP were ready.
            And yet, as ready and determined as they were, something happened before they arrived in Washington that no one expected, and it strengthened their mission beyond anything they had imagined.
            Before Dr. Spearman even arrived in a very cold and windy nation’s capital, he was carrying a “big gun” to the fight – former Charlotte mayor, and Jesse Helms’ black opponent in the contentious 1990 U.S. Senate race, Harvey Gantt.
            Spearman had wanted to bring the retired Gantt with him to Washington to help lobby Republican senators personally, but instead, Gantt sent a statement on NC NAACP letterhead which said, in part, that he opposed Farr’s confirmation because of his role in the Helms campaign, accused Farr of  “…interfering with the voting rights of Black North Carolinians…,”and concluded by stating flatly that, “The Senate should reject his nomination.”
            Rev. Spearman brought other letters of protest too, asking McConnell not to confirm Farr, including one from the NC Legislative Black Caucus, which called Farr “…a race-baiting jurist…”
            When the NC NAACP contingent finally arrived in D.C., they were met at the historic United Methodist Building across from the U.S. Supreme Court by Hilary O. Shelton, Washington Bureau director of the NAACP. That’s when Shelton and his staff shared with NCNAACP members that the night before, The Washington Post reported that a previously unknown 1991 U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) report “recommended [a] lawsuit against the North Carolina Republican Party and the Helms for Senate Committee,” alleging after an investigation that the named defendants “…intimidated and threatened or attempted to intimidate and threaten black voters concerning their right to vote…”
            On Page 12, paragraph 7 of the DOJ report (a copy of which was handed out to each member of the NCNAACP delegation) it stated that Thomas Farr “…was the primary coordinator of the 1984 “ballot security program”” for the NCGOP and the Helms for Senate Committee, which involved sending out postcards to predominately black voting districts in order to challenge some at the polls on Election Day.
            The paragraph went on to say that while Farr “…did not play an active role in the 1990 Helms campaign, he was sufficiently connected to the Helms Committee [to help plan the 1990 ballot security program].
            So not only did Farr coordinate the 1984 voter suppression effort of the NC Republican Committee and Helms’ reelection bid against then Gov. Jim Hunt, but based of his experience, advised on the 1990 effort against Gantt. Farr was more involved that he publicly admitted in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, and subsequent written inquiry from Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein.
            He was later forced to admit that he was more involved than he first let on.
            With Shelton leading the way, the NCNAACP delegation made its way to the Dirksen Senate Office Building a short walking distance away, intent not only on intensely lobbying the four Republican senators they had appointments with not to confirm Farr, but to drive home the new information per the 1991 DOJ report that nailed Farr for his role in ballot security activities in not one, but two racially charged elections.
            The goal – either to have the nomination pulled in light of the new information, or to get at least one other Republican senator to join Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona to oppose Farr’s nomination. Flake, who is stepping down after this Congress, had already signaled that he would oppose Farr’s confirmation. If one other GOP senator could be convinced to join Flake, Senate Democrats would have 51 votes against, enough to sink the nomination, even if Vice President Pence came in to vote with the Republicans.
            The confirmation with the entire Senate was scheduled for the next day, November 29th.
            The first meeting was with the staffs of North Carolina’s two Republican senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, in Tillis’ office. The staffs were polite to the extent that they needed to be, but still seemed unsympathetic.
            The next meeting was over in the Hart Senate Office Building next door with a staffer for Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who at least seemed interested, compared to the Burr and Tillis staffers.
            The final meeting was with the staff of Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. 
            Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, was being watched very carefully by numerous observers. The thinking was despite his conservative politics, even Scott couldn’t deny the racism of former colleague Jesse Helms, or those who worked for him.
It was there where Shelton, Rev. Spearman, various NCNAACP members, and even Derrick Johnson, national president of the NAACP who joined the meeting later unexpectedly, implored Scott’s staffers to impress upon their boss the significance of the DOJ revelations, and how they prove that Thomas Farr “was not fit” to serve a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.
            Spearman even pressed the staffers to make sure they had Sen. Scott speak with Harvey Gantt, a South Carolina native, and the first black student to attend Clemson University.
            In between meetings with the Republican senate staffs, the NC NAACP delegation met with Democratic senators Kamala Harris of California, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
            Both urged the delegation to “Fight On!”
            As the long day ended, the tired NCNAACP’ers left for home in North Carolina, worn, but hopeful that they made their point effectively against Farr’s confirmation.
            The next day, Sen. Scott announced that after much thought, speaking with Farr on the phone, and close study of the 1991 DOJ report, he would vote “no” on confirmation.
            The reaction in North Carolina was off the scale.
            “I commend Sen. Scott and the other Senators who took a firm stand to protect the integrity of the federal judiciary…,” applauded NC Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1)
            “[Farr] should never have been nominated,” declared National NAACP Pres./CEO Derrick Johnson in his victory statement.
            “We traveled to Washington because we’re committed teachers,” Dr. Spearman said, “…and US Senators needed a voting rights lesson.”
            So what will be Pres. Trump and Senate Republicans next move? The Farr nomination is only one of two that have gone down in flames during Trump’s term, with 84 judicial nominees confirmed over the past two years.
            Some observers suggest Trump and the Republicans just may wait until the next Congress and new GOP-led Senate to re-nominate Farr, this time with a bigger Republican majority.
            But until that happens, if it happens, Rev. Spearman and the NCNAACP are proud that they hammered their point home when it most counted…at the 11thhour.
            “As of today, we know that our fight and our tenacity has paid off,” Rev. Dr. Spearman said. “We claim victory today, but we’re not done fighting.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2018



            [DURHAM]  Two north Carolina congressmen who represent parts of Durham allege that agents with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) lied to a Mexican immigrant who was living at a local church, convincing him that he should leave the church, and travel to Morrisville in order to deal with his ordered deportation. When the man, Samuel Oliver-Bruno, left the church, Friday, he was arrested by ICE, and taken away. In a statement, Congressmen David Price [D-NC-4] and G. K. Butterfield [D-NC-1] noted that Bruno had been living in the United States for over 20 years, and had been following the law per his legal petition. He had back come to the US because his wife was ill, and son depended on him.

            [RALEIGH] The current Wake Register of Deeds calls it, “ …hubris incarnate., manifested audacity laced with temerity.” But former Wake Register of deeds, Laura Riddick, maintains that even though she is now a convicted felon, having pled guilty in August to stealing nearly $1 million from her public office over a seven year period, and spending it on lavish trips, she is still entitled to her full pension, and resents having to forfeit over $120,000 of her pension in the process. Riddick is suing the state Treasurer’s Office to retain her pension.

            [WASHINGTON, D.C.] Former NC Dept. of Transportation Secretary Anthony Tata – who is also a retired brigadier general - defended Pres. Donald Trump’s ordering 5200 military troops to the Mexican border to repel Honduran refugees seeking asylum in the United States from crossing the border. ON “Fox and Friends” on Sunday, Tata was asked his reaction. “President Trump is a man of his word, he said he was going to be tough on the border and he is tough on the border,” Tata replied. Later that afternoon on Twitter, Trump thanked Tata for his support. Tata, who once endorsed Sarah Palin for president, served as NC Transportation Secretary under Gov. Pat McCrory for two years.


By Cash Michaels

            As the NC General Assembly reconvened in yet another special session Tuesday, two prominent North Carolina civil rights leaders warned to not to trust any new laws establishing photo voter identification emanating from it, despite a constitutional amendment passed by voters recently mandating it.
            “Don’t you compromise on our rights [Democrats],” warned Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of Repairers of the breach, and co-chairman of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Revival, during a protest demonstration across the street from the Legislative Building on Jones Street in Raleigh Tuesday.
            “Let them do it, only with extremist Republican votes. Because if you do [Democrats, Gov. Cooper] you become complicit in discrimination.”
            Barber, like several other speakers there, called the NC General Assembly “unconstitutionally constituted” because the federal courts have ruled that they were previously elected by unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered voting districts. 
            “They cheated,” Barber summed up.
            Dr. Barber indicated that voter photo ID, as “…extremists who call themselves Republican,” are intending to pass, “…has already proven to be unconstitutional in the courts” because it targets African-Americans for voter suppression “with surgical precision.”
            Barber added that even though voters approved the voter ID amendment to the North Carolina Constitution, that means little if it contradicts the federal Constitution. The same elected officials who vote for voter ID in the South, are the same, Dr. Barber said, who vote against women, expanding health care, living wages, labor rights, public education, the LGBQ community, and immigrants.
            “So voter ID isn’t just about black people, but about America itself,” Dr. Barber maintained. “This is a fight about all of us, and when you touch black people, you touch all of us. That means all of us must stand together!”
            “We’ve fought and won before….we’ll fight and win again!”
            Like other speakers on program, Rev. Barber also warned that lawmakers should be devoting most of the estimated two weeks this special session is expected to take towards helping flood victims still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Florence.
             “We are drifting back towards Jim Crow, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, president of the NCNAACP told the crowd, accusing the Republican-led NC General Assembly of “…intentionally disenfranchising voters of color to ensure political gain…” for white supremacists.
            Spearman called it “…the height of fraud.”
            “Every time the Berger-Moore all-white caucus comes up with a trick to disenfranchise our rights, we will use it to make North Carolina bulletproof against the voter suppression tricks of the white caucus, the NCNAACP leader vowed.
            “We will not retreat! We MUST not retreat!,” Dr. Spearman exclaimed to cheers. “We WILL be heard! We MUST be heard!”
            At press time Tuesday, neither chamber of the NC General Assembly had passed any voter ID legislation. Senate President pro-tem Phil Berger told reporters Monday that lawmakers would take their time with passage, seeking input from Democrats and citizens.
            Tentatively, the Republican majority wants voter ID legislation that allows for college identification to be used, in addition to driver licenses and free ID cards issued by the state Dept. of Motor Vehicles.

                                                             ATTY. THOMAS FARR
                                                REV. DR. T. ANTHONY SPEARMAN

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            With strong signals that the Republican-led US Senate may very well vote to confirm President Trump’s re-nomination of Raleigh attorney Thomas Farr, 64, to the federal bench as early as today, everyone from progressive activists like the NC NAACP, to the Congressional Black Caucus, to North Carolina ‘s Democratic Congressional Delegation, have mobilized to stop the vote.
            Two busloads of NCNAACP activists from across North Carolina, led by state conference president Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, traveled to Washington, D.C. Wednesday to lobby senators on Capital Hill to either vote against Farr’s controversial judicial nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, or let the nomination die with this outgoing Congress.
            Farr was already approved ten months ago by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but concerned about the midterm elections, Trump pulled the nomination temporarily. Now that the elections are over, observers expect Sen. McConnell to try to get as many of Trump’s judicial nominees confirmed as possible, with Farr heading the list.
            What makes Farr’s nomination to the lifetime post so controversial is his documented history as  an election campaign attorney for the late conservative U.S. Senator Jesse Helm (R-NC) during the 1990’s. Farr is alleged to have helped engineer a Republican so-called “ballot security” program in 1990 that attempted to suppress the black vote statewide when Helms was first challenged by black candidate, former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt.
            In addition, all three of North Carolina’s Democratic congresspeople – Alma Adams (13th(, David Price (4th) and G.K. Butterfield (1st) – wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kty) Monday asking him to  “cancel all votes” on the Farr nomination and “allow his  nomination to expire in the 115thCongress…” because of troubling questions about Farr’s alleged racial past.
            “Mr. Farr’s hostility to African-American political participation does not end with his time with Senator Helms,” the letter to McConnell stated. “Mr. Farr was also responsible for advising the North Carolina General Assembly while it drew federal congressional districts that packed African-American voters into Districts 1 and 12, a move the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed was unconstitutional. Additionally, in 2013, Mr. Farr defended North Carolina’s discriminatory voter ID law, which targeted African-American voters “with almost surgical precision”, according to the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.”
The Eastern District of North Carolina is comprised of 44 out of the state’s 100 counties, and has had the nation’s longest judicial vacancy. But even though district also has a black population of over 25 percent, it has never had a black judge. In fact, Pres. Obama nominated two black female candidates for the post before he left office, but North Carolina’s Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr ‘blue slipped’ or blocked the nominations from getting Senate consideration.
            Both Burr, and Thom Tillis, North Carolina’s junior Republican senator, not only back Farr enthusiastically, but defend him vigorously, saying that the “left’s attacks” on Farr are “unwarranted.”
            Allowing Farr to become a federal judge, not only because of his history with Helms, but his later efforts on behalf of the NC Republican Party to establish voter ID and racial gerrymandering, would be unthinkable, says Dr. Spearman.
            “Tom Farr in the Eastern District with the legal authority to decide the fate of African-Americans — hear me somebody — is tantamount to Adolf Hitler wreaking havoc among our Jewish sisters and brothers, and Saul, who later became the apostle Paul, breathing out cruelty to Christians,”Spearman told reporters last March after going to Washington to protest after Pres. Trump first nominated Farr.
            When he went to D.C. earlier this year, Spearman was hopeful that Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Tim Scott of South Carolina, might buck their party, and join the 49 Senate Democrats in voting against Farr’s nomination.
            On Tuesday, a number of national civil rights leaders, including former North Carolina NAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber, joined the Congressional Black Caucus and the North Carolina Democratic Congressional Delegation in calling for the U.S. Senate not to confirm atty Thomas Farr.

Sunday, November 18, 2018


                                                              REP. LEWIS
                                                                 REP. JACKSON

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Keep ‘em guessing.
            That’s the posture of Republican legislative leaders going into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, as Democrats, and activists like the NCNAACP, brace themselves for what they highly suspect will be a contentious, and controversial lame duck special session beginning Nov. 27th, that possibly won’t end until sometime the first week in December.
            This much is known – with the passage of the GOP-sponsored constitutional amendment of establishing voter photo ID, expect the Republican-led NC General Assembly to exercise the last breath of it’s supermajority, to enact laws that they hope will pass legal muster in the state and federal courts.
            Especially the U.S. Supreme Court, where a conservative majority is likely to rubber stanp whatever the Republican legislative majority comes up with, observers say.
            House Rules Committee Chair Rep. David Lewis [R- Harnett], the Republicans’ go-to man for all things electoral voting, has given what could best be described as a hint during a television appearance last week in Raleigh.
            When asked  on the Spectrum cable television show “Capital Tonight,” all Lewis would say was say was Republicans would sponsor a ‘good” voter ID bill that would “…improve the intergrity of our system.” Nothing about what kinds of photo identification would, or would not be acceptable at the polls.
            Voters who approved the voter ID amendment during the midterm elections were never given that information, critics charge, thus giving a legislative blank check Republicans to write any voting restrictions they please, with full confidence, after studying voter ID laws in South Carolina and elsewhere, that they could withstand  a court challenge.
            Lewis did add that Republicans will craft voter ID legislation in a manner to ensure that everyone who “eligible” to vote, indeed gets to exercise that right.
            The concern with that statement from Lewis is that the voting restrictions that they adopt – just the 2013 laws Republican adopted that disallowed state-issued photo ID for college student, and didn’t account for low-income older citizens who do not have current photo ID -  is exactly who is defined as “eligible” by the upcoming legislation.
            House Democratic Minority Leader Rep. Darren Jackson [D-Wake] appeared on the same program as Rep. Lewis, and admitted that in terms of getting a heads-up on what to expect during the lame duck special session next week, “We really don’ know what to expect on our side.”
            However, Rep. Lewis  did promise to share a copy of what Republican leaders propose per voter ID legislation, with the goal of getting feedback, and maybe even cooperation in it’s passage, though, given that the GOP still has it’s supermajority until the end of the year, such “cooperation” really isn’t needed.
            Unless Republicans are actually looking for legal cover in case Democrats do challenge the measures in court.
            Lewis also mentioned the possibility of holding hearings on th bill.
            Rep. Jackson, resigned to the fcat that voter ID will now be a constitutional reality in the state of North Carolina, suggested crafting legislation that won’t make lines at the pols longer, or won’t erroneously kick valid voters off the voting rolls. The House Democratic leader also called for more resources to be appropriated to help improve North Carolina’s voting system.


            [FAYETTEVILLE]A freshman football player for Winston-Salem State University was killed Saturday afternoon in a car crash in Fayetteville. Johnathon Gilmore had reportedly gone back home to see his high school alma mater, South View, play in a football contest Friday evening. Gilmore’s former coach says the young man was on the sidelines with his old team during that game for support. A memorial service is reportedly planned to honor Gilmore this Saturday.

            [CHARLOTTE] Thanks to provisional, military and mail-in ballots, Democrat Rachel Hunt, daughter of former NC Gov. Jim Hunt, edged out Republican incumbent Rep. Bill Brawley of Mecklenburg, by 70 votes out of over 38,000 cast. Brawley has asked for a recount, since Hunt’s margin of victory is less than the mandated 1 percent. But if the vote total holds, that;s yet another GOP seat that has been flipped by Democrats in the NC House per the 2028 midterms, strengthening Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto pen, and further burying the Republican’s former legislative supermajority.

            [ZEBULON]  Dancers from a studio in Zebulon are headed to the bright lights of the Big White Way in New York City to perform in Thursday’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Sixteen performers with the Legacy Dance Productions will be showing their stuff, thanks to an audition tape that was sent on their behalf by owner BrieAnna AlFord. Some of the girls said they had never been to New York City before, and looked forward to doing some shopping while there. Mesanwhile, the dancers have endured four-hour daily practice to ensure that their routine is near-perfect before the parade’s national television audience.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            According to a new report released by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in Washington, D.C., hate crimes across the United States in 2017 were up 17 percent, and a whopping 12 percent just in North Carolina alone.
            Hate crimes, as defined by the FBI’s annual UCR (Uniform Crime Reporting, are “bias motivated incidents…motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity.”
            In North Carolina, there were 166 reported hate crimes in 2017, which is a jump up from 148 in 2016. A total of 527 law enforcement agencies across the state participated in contributing reports to the FBI’s UCR, cover over 10.2 million people statewide in 2017.
            North Carolina ranked 13 out of 50 states in hate crimes last year, the FBI added.
            Nationally, whites, beginning at age 18, account for over 50 percent of all hate crime incidents. 59.6 percent of hate crimes emanate from racial or ethnic bias. Racial intimidation is considered the most common form of hate crime.
            Many observers note that 2017, coincidentally, is the year Donald Trump was inaugurated president of the United States, ushering a new era of racial intolerance that that been highlighted by high profile cases of whites aggressively social “policing” African-Americans and Hispanics, calling law enforcement for everything from someone of color swimming in a neighborhood pool, to a child manning a lemonade stand.
            In many instances, smartphone video of the incidents go viral, showing that black citizens just going about their constitutionally protected business, have been subject to harassment, suspicion, and intimidation by whites who believe that they must be doing something if they are apparently sharing the same public space.