STATE NEWS BRIEFS FOR 07-02-20
CONTROVERSIAL UNC-W PROFESSOR TO RETIRE AUG.1
[WILMINGTON] Mike Adams, the controversial UNC-W professor accused of making inflammatory sexist and racist comments on his social media, has agreed to retire from the university as of August 1st, the school announced this week. It was a May 29th Twitter post where Adams used slave imagery to chide Gov. Cooper for his COVID -19 restrictions that North Carolina “a slave state.” Adams then followed with “Massa Cooper, let my people go.” The call for Adams to be dismissed got national attention.
LEGISLATURE APPROVES $1.5 MILLION N.C. FREEDOM PARK
[RALEIGH] In a 1 a.m. vote last Friday morning before adjourning, the NC General Assembly approved $1.5 million for the proposed NC Freedom Park. The bill has since been sent to Gov. Cooper for his signature. The park honoring Black North Carolinians and how they contributed to the history of this state will be constructed on Lane Street at Wilmington Street in downtown Raleigh between the Executive Mansion and the Legislative Building. The park was designed by the late architect Phillip Freelon.
TWO WILMINGTON CONFEDERATE STATUES REMOVED
[WILMINGTON] Demonstrators have gotten their wish. City government removed two confederate monuments from the downtown area in the early morning hours of June 25th. One was a statue honoring George Davis. Another was a memorial to Confederate soldiers killed during the Civil War. The city had earlier put curfews around the monuments to protect them from vandalism.
CHIEF DONNY WILLIAMS
CHIEF WILLIAMS STANDS UP FOR THE
COMMUNITY, AND HIS DEPARTMENT
By Cash Michaels
When three racist white Wilmington police officers were accidentally recorded last month calling black citizens, black police officers, and black demonstrators n-words, even discussing the possibility of a race war to “slaughter,” and in the words of one officer, “…wipe ‘em off the f****ng map,” Wilmington Police Chief Donny Williams, an African-American himself, took it personally.
“It was racially offensive to me, the 29-year WPD veteran told The Journal. “I don’t know any other way about it, and it was also racially offensive to people who are not black. It was just outright wrong, and disgusting.”
Those longtime officers were not only publicly fired, but banished like a bad memory, and Chief Williams made sure to it.
Those racist officers severely tarnished the city, and police department that Donny Williams loves, and on his very first day as permanent chief, he stood strong in denouncing they actions, and standing up for the values he wanted Wilmington and the world to see he cherished without apology.
“It was just outright wrong, and disgusting,” he insisted to The Journal in his very first interview the day after his explosive June 24th press conference.
That reaction to anyone who knows Williams should come as no surprise. The veteran officer is Wilmington born-and-bred. First from Wilmington’s public housing (son of a single mother in the Creekside housing Community), and first from the police academy, to now lead the city’s main law enforcement agency.
“This is my home,” the married father of two says proudly. “I was born here. There are great people in this community.”
And it didn’t hurt any five months ago when his predecessor, Ralph Evangelous, wholeheartedly endorsed his former assistant chief taking over as interim.
“For the past year and a half, I’ve had the pleasure of watching Assistant Chief Williams help to lead the Wilmington Police Department,” Evangelous said in an outgoing statement. “His hard work and commitment to community policing continues to be an asset to our agency. I’m confident he will continue to move this agency forward, while focusing on the safety and well-being of our citizens.”
“Personally I feel honored and essentially humbled that the City Council would trust me with such a large and awesome responsibility, and by the support that the residents of the city have given me,” Williams, the first black police chief in the Port City’s modern history, continued. “It’s been overwhelming for me and my family.”
“I may adopt some of the things the prior chief had established, and he was very big in technology, being on the cutting edge, and [adopting] best practices,” Williams continued.
“But I also want to put my own stamp on things, and given what’s happening right now [in policing], I want to lead a team that’s progressive, and do community policing with a different look to it. I want to accomplish the mission, but do it in a way that is very inclusive.”
Serving the community of Wilmington; protecting the community of Wilmington. That has been the personal and professional mission of Donny Williams ever since he became a police cadet in 1990, formally graduating to sworn officer in December 1992.
As The Journal stated in a Feb. 6th, 2020 editorial after Williams began as interim police chief after Ralph Evangelous retired, “…beyond being an officer, a police captain, a deputy chief over Special and Criminal Investigations, and overseeing the department’s largest Patrol division, Chief Williams has always made time for our community’s youth, working to expand the Police Activities League (PAL) enrolling over 500 young people per year.”
The Journal editorial continued, “Chief Williams meets all of the requirements of experienced, and educated leadership, with a BA from Mt. Olive College in Management and Organizational Development. He is also a graduate of the Administrative Officer’s Management Program at NC State University, [and] completed the 75th Session of Police Executive Research Forum Senior Management Institute for Police.”
“And last, but certainly not least, Chief Williams oversaw the design, development, and completion of the Haynes - Lacewell Police and Fire Training Facility,” the editorial concluded.
During the recent demonstrations in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, Chief Williams left his office, went to the streets, and joined protestors, publicly agreeing that even as a lawman, Floyd’s tragic and senseless death was intolerable.
Now, in the midst of dramatic social justice and police reform, how does Wilmington Police Chief Donny Williams envision his challenge to balance keeping the community safe, while simultaneously maintaining a strong bond of trust with young people and the African-Americas community?
“We have to connect police officers with the people, and once you make those connections, our officers, and the people they serve, are going to have to sit down and have honest conversations,” Williams told The Journal. “Officers that are assigned neighborhoods that are primarily African-American, we’re going to have to get both groups together. Also groups that are Hispanic, are white, or combined neighborhoods.”
“It’s all about people communicating with people,” Chief Williams said.
CHIEF DONNY WILLIAMS
WILMINGTON HEALING AFTER
THREE RACIST OFFICERS FIRED
By Cash Michaels
After a dramatic week when three white veteran Wilmington police officers were unceremoniously fired after it was revealed they were caught on a recording making racist, derogatory, and undeniably threatening remarks regarding African-Americans, and what they wanted to do to them, citizens are left wondering, “Are there more?”
“ I'm alarmed that these individuals were hired to "protect and serve” the same citizens they spoke about in a threatening and intimidating manner,” said Deborah Dicks Maxwell, president of the New Hanover County NAACP. “My concern is these are the three who were caught. How many more lurk behind the blue, not only at WPD, but across this state and nation?”
Wilmington Police Chief Donny Williams, lauded for taking the bold step of not only terminating the three officers on his first full day as the Port City’s permanent police chief (Williams is a 30-year veteran of WPD, and had served four months as interim before being officially named June 24th), but also displaying unusual transparency in revealing virtually every detail about just how vile and hideous the officers’ behavior was, says for now, the inadvertent police recordings only point to the three fired.
“Those are the only ones we could determine and prove,” Williams assured.
But if there are other current members of the Wilmington Police Department who are as disgruntled or racially biased as the three he kicked out the door last week, Chief Williams, an African-American, has a serious message for them.
“I’ll be honest…if any officer that’s out there has the same views that [those three officers displayed] they need to do me a favor, their sheriff, their patrol commander, whatever agency they work for …do us all a favor as law enforcement leaders, and leave the profession,” Williams said sternly. “We cannot tolerate that. There are no discriminatory biases allowed to exist in the law enforcement profession. We’re dealing with people, and we need to treat people fairly.”
“Fairly” is nowhere near how now former veteran officers Kevin Piner, James Gilmore and Jesse Moore II talked about treating black people when they were caught on an accidentally activated patrol car video camera earlier this month spewing racial hate during two conversations.
A police sergeant, doing her job by routinely auditing patrol car video, discovered a June 4th taped conversation between Piner and Gilmore, and then Piner and Moore that so alarmed her, she alerted superiors. It wasn’t long before that concern made it all the way up to then Interim Chief Williams.
Per transcripts of the offending dialogue, not only was the n-word liberally used referring to Black Lives Matter demonstrators and black police officers, but talk of a “civil war” between blacks and whites coming, and being “ready” for it.
“We are just gonna go out and start slaughtering them f****** n******. I can’t wait. God I can’t wait,” Piner told Moore, later adding that he plans to buy an assault rifle, “I’m ready.”
Piner strongly advocated for a nationwide civil war to “…wipe ‘em off the f****** map. That’ll put ‘em back about four or five generations.”
Moore apparently wasn’t at ease with Piner’s civil war talk, but a later taped conversation had Moore more energized about a black female he arrested the day before, someone he freely demeaned as an n-word who needed “…a bullet in her head right then and move on. Let’s move the body out of the way and keep going.”
Moore also refers to a black judge as a “f*****g negro magistrate.”
The officers also made negative reference to Chief Williams during their diatribes.
Once it was investigated, the officers hauled in and forced to admit to what they said, and then the city manager and City Council signed off on his decision, Williams decided he wasn’t having any of it.
There were “extensive violations of the department’s manual of rules and policies which include the standard of conduct, criticism, and use of inappropriate language,” the chief told reporters during a June 24th press conference.
He could have allowed them to just resign in disgrace. But no. Williams wanted the three officers fired, their behaviors fully exposed, their ability to work anywhere in Wilmington law enforcement or city government forever blocked, and past cases they testified in examined for probable racial bias and cleared.
He also notified the N.C. Criminal Justice Training and Standards Commission.
“[The conversations] were brutally offensive and deserved immediate attention,” Williams said, noting that Mayor Saffo and the City Council concurred with releasing all of the pertinent personnel information to the public. “When I first learned of these conversations, I was shocked, saddened, and disgusted. There is no place for this behavior in our agency or our city and it will not be tolerated.”
Police chiefs across the state agreed that Chief Williams did the right thing.
“What I’m most pleased about is how the city of Wilmington and it’s new police chief responded,” Colonel Glenn McNeil Jr., African-American commander of the NC Highway Patrol, told the Raleigh-Apex NAACP during a June 27th Facebook interview.
At press time, whether the actual tapes of the conversations will be released had not yet been decided on by a judge.
GOVERNOR SIGNS “SECOND CHANCE” ACT
By Cash Michaels
If you have a nonviolent criminal record in North Carolina with misdemeanors and low-level felonies, and you’ve served your full prison sentence and paid all of your fines, you can now have those bad marks expunged, thanks to the Second Chance Act.
Governor Roy Cooper signed the long awaited bill into law last week, giving many nonviolent offenders who have paid their penance, indeed, a fresh start and second chance at rebuilding their troubled lives.
The new law automatically expunges criminal charges that are dismissed or disposed “not guilty” after Dec 1, 2021 and allows individuals to petition for expungement of all nonviolent misdemeanor convictions after 7 years of good behavior after Dec 1 2020.
Ex-offenders who also committed low-level, nonviolent crimes between the ages of 16 and 18 years of age qualify for expungement.
The “clean slate”measure, Senate Bill 562, was introduced in April 2019 by a bipartisan coalition of state senators headed by former Sen. Floyd McKissick (D-Durham). It passed the Senate unanimously, went over to the House where it stalled until last month when that body also passed it unanimously, then back over to the Senate where it was passed again on June 16th, and signed by the governor on June 25th.
“We can give people who make amends for past mistakes the opportunity to clear their records. This bill offers that opportunity and a path to good jobs and a brighter future,” said Gov. Cooper.
The bill was supported by both the NC NAACP and conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity.
One of the law’s strongest proponents was Dennis Gaddy, executive director of Community Success Initiative (CSI), a nonprofit re-entry program for ex-offenders who have served their time, and are looking to start their lives over again crime-free and more productively.
Gaddy, once a successful businessman who made some bad choices years ago, and served time in prison, has led CSI for 15 years, and has helped hundreds of former offenders find stable work.
He says the Second Chance Act now makes it easier for exoffenders to build productive lives.