IF HB 370 BECOME LAW
BLACK SHERIFFS FEAR
REMOVAL FROM OFFICE
By Cash Michaels
Now that both Houses of the North Carolina General Assembly have passed controversial House Bill 370 – the measure requiring North Carolina sheriffs to cooperate with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in detaining alleged illegal immigrants suspected of crimes, before the measure gets to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk, the state House has to concur with state Senate changes made Monday night.
Cooper has already indicated that he’s not on board with the bill, calling it “unconstitutional” in a statement issued before its senate passage Monday.
“As the former top law enforcement officer in our state, I know that current law allows us to lock up and prosecute dangerous criminals regardless of immigration status,” Cooper said in a statement. “This bill isn’t about that — in addition to being unconstitutional, it’s about scoring political points and using fear to divide us.”
The Democratic governor is expected to veto the measure, and now that he has more Democrats in the House, it’s not likely that body will be able to override his veto with a two-thirds count, even though Republicans still have a majority there.
It would take a super-majority to defeat Cooper’s veto, and while that’s not likely to happen, suppose enough House Republicans were able to convince a handful of Democrats to vote to override, suggesting that with an election year just around the corner, their vote against HB 370 could be used against them.
If that happened, the measure would become law, most likely to be challenged in court as unconstitutional, which could effectively freeze it while in litigation.
But after all of that, if HB 370 ultimately survived its challenges, the first of the six black sheriffs who won election in last year’s November midterms could find him or herself legally challenged to keep their job.
Those black sheriffs – representing Wake, Mecklenburg, Durham and three other counties – won election by promising not to work with ICE agents in detaining suspected illegal immigrants. And all three from those counties – Sheriff Gerald Baker of Wake, Garry McFadden of Mecklenburg and Clarence Birkhead of Durham, have each maintained their campaign promises not to capitulate to ICE demands.
But they say that has made them targets of Republican lawmakers’ ire, who have threatened to have them and any North Carolina sheriff removed from office if they don’t cooperate with ICE.
"House Bill 370 is not about protecting our communities. It's not about making our communities safe. House Bill 370 is clearly about attacking a select group of sheriffs," Sheriff McFadden said a press conference last week, even after the NC Sheriffs Association did an about face and supported the bill.
HB 370 spells it out: “Any sheriff or police officer shall be removed from office by the judge of the superior court, resident in or holding the courts of the district where said officer is resident upon charges made in writing, and hearing thereunder, for willful failure…or refusal to perform the duties of his or her office.”
According to the ACLU of North Carolina, this is the first time in a hundred years that the provision for removing a sheriff in the state has been modified.
Essentially, if five citizens in a county file a complaint with the local district attorney against the sheriff, that complaint is investigated, and then heard in court for a judge to decide whether the sheriff should be removed.
Earlier on Monday, the NCNAACP, along with representatives from various Latino organizations and the Poor People’s Campaign, held a press conference at the Legislature calling HB370 “racist” not just against the Latino community, but the black sheriffs too.
CALL FOR REPARATIONS STUDY
By Cash Michaels
North Carolina’s two African American congresspeople have formally joined the call for a congressional call for a study on reparations to the descendants of enslaved Africans brought to these shores during the 17thcentury.
Both U.S. representatives Alma Adams (D-NC-12) and G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1) are cosponsors of H.R. 40 – Commission to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans, primarily sponsored by Texas Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.
Prior to last week’s June 19thHouse Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Hearing in Washington, D.C., Congresswoman Adams issued a statement.: “We must address the horrible legacy of slavery in our country. I cosponsored H.R. 40…to begin this important conversation that needs to be a part of our national dialogue.”
In a tweet that same day, Congressman Butterfield wrote, “We marked the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans arriving at the colony of Jamestown, Virginia. #HR40gives us the opportunity to reflect on the shameful legacy of slavery and Jim Crow in this country, and to examine how we can best move forward as a nation.”
The hearing last week – noted for testimony from actor Danny Glover, heralded black writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, and U.S. Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Cory Booker [D-NJ] – was the first time since 2007 that Congress has considered the issue. Former U.S. Congressman John Conyers originally sponsored the measure calling for a study on reparations.
Beyond the primary focus of the hearing – namely what the legacy of slavery is, the far-reaching impact it still has on today’s African American community, and what should be done to tangibly address that negative impact, dismissive comments about reparations from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) the day before, helped to add fuel to the fire.
“I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none of us currently living are responsible is a good idea,” McConnell responded when asked. “We tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We’ve elected an African-American president.”
The Republican Senate Majority Leader continued, ““I think we’re always a work in progress in this country but no one currently alive was responsible for that. And I don’t think we should be trying to figure out how to compensate for it.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, who write the heralded “The Case for Reparations,” a 2014 article in a national magazine, went after McConnell for his rebuke of reparations at the hearing the following day.
“Majority Leader McConnell cited civil rights legislation yesterday, as well he should, because he was alive to witness the harassment, jailing and betrayal of those responsible for that legislation by a government sworn to protect them,” Coates told lawmakers. “He was alive for the redlining of Chicago and the looting of black homeowners of some $4 billion. Victims of that plunder are very much alive today. I am sure they’d love a word with the majority leader.”
Congress must now vote to establish the study.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS FOR 6-27-19
STATE HOUSE, SENATE COMPLETE PROPOSED BUDGET
[RALEIGH] On Tuesday, state House and Senate Republican legislative leaders unveiled their proposed $24 billion budget that does not include Medicaid expansion, as Gov. Cooper demanded. Lawmakers say they’d be happy to come back for a special session to discuss expansion, but are standing behind this budget proposal, saying that it is “nonpartisan.” In it, teachers and state employees get raises, and state retirees get a one-time bonus, The NC Dept. of Health and Human Services would be mandated to move to Granville County, forcing many of its employees to travel longer, or just quit.
Gov. Cooper’s spokesman said the GOP proposal is ‘"a bad budget that has the wrong priorities."
BB&T CUSTOMERS TOLD TO BEWARE OF SCAM
[WINSTON-SALEM] BB&T bank is warning its customers of a scam that has been going on since May that could cost them money. Authorities say customers are receiving a from someone identifying themselves as working at BB&T, asking them if they’ve made a “large purchase” recently. To confirm their identity, the BB&T scammer will tell the customer to Google the phone number, which will correspond with the text number. Ultimately, the scammer gets enough information to take money from the customer’s account. BB&T says it is investigating each acse.
WAKE SHERIFF ENDS SENIOR WELLNESS CHECK PROGRAM JULY 1
[KNIGHTDALE] Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker is ending his agency’s senior well-check program as of July 1st, he says. Deputies will no longer routinely look I on elderly residents who live alone in the county to make sure that they’re alright. Some local police departments in the county are picking up the slack with a daily telephone senior well-check program, calling seniors to make sure they haven’t fallen or slipped in the shower.