Monday, February 26, 2018


                                                       PASTOR DIERDRE PARKER

By Cash Michaels
Staff writer

            [WILMINGTON] A Wilmington pastor has expressed concern about security at her church in the aftermath of receiving a racist letter that referred to impoverished African-American communities as “Nigger town…”
Rev. Dierdre Parker, pastor of Speaks Temple AME Zion Church at 1120 Dawson Street in Wilmington, posted half of the crude, and vile letter that was mailed to her church on her Facebook page Sunday.
            “There is a part of me that wonders if I should get security at the church?” Pastor Parker posted. “Will I need to keep my eyes on the door while I’m preaching? But who would walk into a church and hurt someone, right?”
            “That’s what we all thought until 9 people were murdered in Charleston. So what do we do now? All I know is that I will continue to trust God, and I will continue to do what I’ve been called to do. Nobody said it would be easy.”
The letter is addressed to “MINISTER, Head Pastor” with Speaks Temple AMEZ’s address, and was postmarked  “Charlotte, NC 282” on “14FEB 2018 PM 4 L.”  It reads:

            Go to any city in the United States of America, any city. Go to the area of the city where you see drug dealers standing on the street corner, whores walking the street, metal bars or metal grating over the shop windows, run down houses with dirt yards, seedy buildings with windows shattered or broken out, creepy people (lazy bums) sitting on porches (porch monkeys), beat up cars and trucks, fat ass women, big lipped ape men, blue gummed people wandering around, a stench in the air, illegitimate kids everywhere, etc…
            Then the letter rhetorically asks in bold letters, “WHERE ARE YOU? Answer: Nigger town, of course.”
That was the first, and only part of the racist letter that Parker made public Sunday.
            Monday evening, during an exclusive interview, Pastor Parker revealed that she didn’t post the second half of the letter because it was even worse:
Niggers do not give a s—t about anything.
            They’re lazy. They stink. They’re uneducated. They riot. They loot. They will steal you blind. They will not work for a living. They are the parasites of the land.           
            Niggers suck off the white man. Niggers have always sucked off the white man.
            Niggers do nothing to contribute to the society in which we live.
Nothing…nothing at all.
            How do you starve a nigger? Hide his food stamps under a pair of work boots.
The letter is not signed, and there was no return address.
The Wilmington Police Dept. did interview Pastor Parker about the letter Monday evening, and took it with them. They are expected to increase patrols in the area of Speaks Temple, but explained that’s the best they can do without knowing who sent it.
The state Attorney General’s Office also contacted Pastor Parker about the letter.
Deborah Dicks Maxwell, president of the New Hanover County NAACP, was outraged.
             “This is unacceptable at anytime, but especially in 2018,” Ms. Maxwell said in a statement. “We sincerely hope this is the only correspondence that was sent, but it was one too many.”
Many on social media – black and white - have also expressed shock and outrage at the letter, wondering if other black churches across the state will get similar missives in the mail.
Pastor Parker has communicated with other clergy in Wilmington, including her pastor, Rev. Dr. Cliff Barnett of Warner Temple AME Zion Church, to whom she also gave a copy of the letter.
“I think more churches, or black businesses might get it ,”Pastor Parker said. “I just think they started with us.”

                                                           CONRAD JAMES

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            On Sept. 20, 2016, an African-American Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year black man. Officers say Scott brandished a handgun getting out of a parked vehicle, but refused to drop it when ordered.
            The fatal shooting sparked two nights of violent demonstrations as thousands of people, predominately black, took to the streets of the Queen City in protest.
            But according to a young social activist named Conrad James, he was asked to come to Charlotte and hold an angry rally protesting the shooting. The riots and the heated controversy in the police aftermath, it turns out, was tailor-made for a Russian-backed conspiracy to suppress the black vote in North Carolina in the 2016 presidential elections.
            Thanks to the recently released indictments by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference into the 2016 elections to help Republican candidate Donald Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton, it is now known that Russian operatives, in an effort to sour black voters on the Clinton campaign, sponsored “Down with Hillary” rallies, and would invite unwitting American activists to take part.
            But while that was true in other parts of the nation, according to Conrad James in an exclusive interview right after the Mueller indictments were revealed, that was not the case in Charlotte, and in Greensboro. Instead of “Down with Hillary,” anger at the police per the Keith Lamont fatal shooting was the vehicle used to encourage specifically young black perspective voters to express their general anger and frustration with “the system” and “police brutality,” by not voting at all.
            The logical calculation, according to James, who was asked by an allegedly Russian-backed group called “BlackMattersUSA” to come to Charlotte and lead an angry rally designed to further stirrup community tensions, was that because Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, depended on the black vote, and young people, to win the presidency, her electoral effort in North Carolina would almost exclusively suffer.
            James, 25, says he was a member of a multi-racial demonstration group called “Living Ultra-violet,” best known in July 2016 for taking to the streets in Raleigh and peacefully protesting the fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La. and Philando Castile in Minnesota, as well as the murders of five police officers in Dallas, Texas.
            James was interviewed by Raleigh TV station WTVD during that demonstration, where he stated that his group “…rallies around the Black Lives Matters movement to uplift [people of color]”. James also noted that the group had no hatred towards law enforcement or white people.
            James says a woman saw him on television, and contacted him three days later about coming to Charlotte and speaking at a protest rally there. Because he didn’t know much about “Black MattersUSA,” but was impressed with their apolitical factual rhetoric and online following, However, they had no framework for the rally.
James countered that he’d come, but only if he could coordinate the rally himself (James saw it as a golden opportunity to promote is own nonprofit group). The woman agreed.
            But when the young Raleigh activist arrived in Charlotte in October 2016, based on who he met (two “black kids with a white dude behind them…who didn’t say anything”), and what he heard and saw, it was clear that BlackMattersUSA had an agenda far different from his own. James was committed to peace and constructive engagement, but what he was seeing were attempts “…to add fuel to the fire,” designed to increase anti-police tensions, frustrations and distrust, and ultimately cause those attending the rally to socially and civically disengage.
            James told ABC News recently that people with “BlackMattersUSA” “…were definitely trying to stir up trouble.”
            In Oct. 2017, a Russian investigative journalist named “Andre,” tracking Russian connections, contacted James through Facebook, and informed him of the group’s Russian ties and funding.
            “He completely blew my mind,” James recalls.
James was eventually asked to testify before a Congressional committee, but declined. If subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, James says he would have no choice but to testify, but wouldn’t be happy about it. Based on what he saw and heard, there’s little doubt in his mind now that what he witnessed was a Russian attempt during the 2016 campaign at black voter suppression.
            Conrad James says given his experience, he looks over his shoulder now, not knowing whether friend or foe is lurking near. And yes, he does believe that the Trump campaign was well aware that the Russians were doing something to help the businessman get elected.
            And as for Hillary Clinton, she lost North Carolina – a state that Barack Obama won in 2008 by just 14,000 votes– by 177,000 to Trump.
            According to NPR, the black vote for Clinton was six points less for her than Pres. Obama’s black support in 2012. If it had been the same, she would have won the state by 191,000 votes, and secured North Carolina’s 15 electoral college votes.


            [RALEIGH] According to conservative columnist John Hood, North Carolina Republican leaders are “…feeling cautiously optimistic about the 2018 midterms,” despite the constant drumbeat of negative press about the Trump Administration in Washington, and the low approval ratings the GOP-led NC legislature is currently getting in public polling. Hood points to three factors for optimism – “Money, maps and momentum.”  First, the Republicans have a fundraising edge over Democrats going into the fall, in addition to outside groups also spending money to keep Republicans in power. In terms of maps, two negative decisions against the Republicans regarding their unconstitutional redistricting maps are currently tied up in the courts, and are not likely to be resolved anytime soon given the appeals process.
            And finally, thank rising poll numbers for the Trump tax reform law that polls show is becoming more and more popular, as some Americans are seeing slightly bigger paychecks. Add to that an improved economy, and Republicans feel that they can hold on to their supermajority this fall.
            Democrats, on the other hand, are counting on mounting dissatisfaction with the Trump Administration, and NC Republican policies, like eliminating judicial elections.

            [RALEIGH] Kim Strach, state director of the NC Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, has asked state lawmakers, in a letter,  to strengthen various current election laws in order to provide more ballot security to North Carolina’s voting process. "Much has transpired since the Department of Homeland Security designated the elections sector as critical infrastructure in January 2017," Strach wrote. "We, along with the nation, have gained a disturbing but more accurate understanding of the threats confronting systems that administer elections." Strach is recommending that no voting system be connected to any wired or wireless networks; only certified electronic voter check-in systems be used; a secure electronic transmission system be created for receiving absentee and overseas military ballots ;  make it a misdemeanor for anyone no a county elections employee to copy voter records; Allow criminal background checks for all full-time or temporary elections workers.



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