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Monday, April 14, 2014

Frazier Glenn Miller, charged in Kansas killings at Jewish Center, participated in deadly Greensboro confrontation

Posted by on Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 8:23 AM

Frazier Glenn Miller was 39 years old and a leader in the North Carolina white supremacist movement in 1979 when he participated in a deadly confrontation in Greensboro between the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis on one side and on the other, black and white members of the Communist Party, who were holding an anti-racist rally.

Now Miller, 73, has been charged with killing three people at a Jewish Community Center in Kansas. He  is the founder and former leader of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He formed the Carolina Knights while living in Angier, N.C., in Harnett County, but has been living in Aurora, Mo., for several years.

His account of that day in Chapter 3 of this book A White Man Speaks Out. (A word of caution: The content is troubling.) 

During that 1979 Greensboro massacre, 40 members of the Klan and the American Nazi Party killed five anti-Klan demonstrators and wounded nine others; however no one was ever convicted. In fact, the police stood by as the shootings happened. On the 25th anniversary of the killings, Democracy Now interviewed two of the survivors; here is a transcript. The incident has been the subject of films, books and newspaper articles.

Sally Avery Bermanzohn, published a book, Through Survivor's Eyes, about the incident and the Truth And Reconciliation Commission that followed it.

According to CBS News, Miller also founded the White Patriot Party and was the subject of a nationwide manhunt in 1987 for violating the terms of his bond while appealing a North Carolina conviction for operating a paramilitary camp. The search ended after federal agents found Miller and three other men in an Ozark mobile home, which was filled with hand grenades, automatic weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

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    Well known white supremacist leader has long history in North Carolina

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

DPS says top official's resignation unrelated to inmate death investigation

Posted by on Thu, Apr 10, 2014 at 11:30 AM

N.C. Department of Public Safety officials say that the resignation of agency Chief Operating Officer Ellis Boyle is unrelated to the ongoing investigation into the unexpected death of an inmate last month.

DPS issued a release Wednesday announcing Boyle's replacement, but did not explain why the agency chief was leaving. It comes as the department has fired five workers and accepted the resignation of two workers related to the death of inmate Michael Anthony Kerr, a prisoner who died March 12 en route to Raleigh's Central Prison.

Kerr, a Sampson County native with a history of mental illness, spent more than a month in isolation at Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville prior to his death. Family members have blamed prison officials for his death. Meanwhile, officials await the results of a medical examiner's report expected to explain Kerr's cause of death.

According to DPS, the fired prison workers were nurses Brenda Sigman, Wanda St. Clair and Kimberly Towery; nurse supervisor Jacqueline Clark and captain Shawn Blackburn. Nurse Lisa Kemp and staff psychologist Christine Butler have also resigned during the course of the investigation.

More as it develops.

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    But officials release the names and positions of seven prison workers who have lost their jobs due to the investigation.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Department of Public Safety official Ellis Boyle steps down

Posted by on Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Part of the fallout or not? At this point, the reason for the departure of N.C. Department of Public Safety Chief Operating Officer Ellis Boyle is unclear.

But Boyle's resignation—effective Monday, according to a DPS release today—comes as agency officials confirm seven prison officials have lost their jobs in the wake of the death of an Alexander County inmate March 12, first reported in the Indy April 1. According to DPS spokeswoman Pam Walker, five of those workers were fired; two resigned.

As of this afternoon, DPS' communications office had not responded to inquiries regarding Boyle's departure, particularly whether the resignation is related to an ongoing investigation into the death of inmate Michael Anthony Kerr.

Today, DPS Secretary Frank Perry named Lorrie Dollar, the former commissioner of DPS administration, acting chief operating officer. Dollar was a private practice attorney before joining DPS.

“Mrs. Dollar has a wealth of experience in legal, financial and personnel matters in both state government and the private sector,” Perry said in the release. “I appreciate her willingness to step into this extremely important role and take on more responsibilities during this time of transition.”

Stay tuned to the Indy for updates.

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    No word on whether the departure is part of the fallout from an inmate's unexplained death.

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Stephen Kraus of GlaxoSmithKline appointed to Durham Civilian Police Review Board

Posted by on Thu, Apr 3, 2014 at 5:10 PM

Stephen Kraus, an IT manager at GlaxoSmithKline, has been appointed to the Civilian Police Review Board by Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield.

Kraus is filling a vacancy; his term expires in 2015.

Nineteen people, a record number, applied to serve on the board. You can read Kraus' application here. stephen_kraus.pdf

The board has come under public scrutiny in the past six months after a spate of officer-related shootings of civilians. Critics, such as members of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and the NAACP, say the board does not exercise enough independence and is too limited in its scope of duties to be effective in keeping the police in check.

The board met on March 26 to generate possible changes to its protocol and structure. It meets Monday, April 7, at 5:30 p.m. to vote on those recommendations, which it will then forward to City Council for possible approval.

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    Board meets Monday to vote on changes to its protocol and structure

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Suspicious suitcase prompts evacuation of N.C. Mutual Life building in Durham

Posted by on Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 4:19 PM

The N.C. Mutual Life building, evacuated Monday afternoon - LISA SORG
  • Lisa Sorg
  • The N.C. Mutual Life building, evacuated Monday afternoon

Durham Police evacuated the N.C. Mutual Life building this afternoon after a man left a suitcase on the front steps and then fled after a security guard approached him.

A bomb squad—both officers and a robot—was brought in to investigate. 

The building houses about 430 people, including employees of Duke University medicine, the Veterans Administration, N.C. Mutual Life insurance and the Durham office of U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, who represents the Congressional First District.

Dozens of employees gathered across the street at the BB&T bank building, waiting for the all-clear. They were still waiting two hours after the evacuation. - LISA SORG
  • Lisa Sorg
  • Dozens of employees gathered across the street at the BB&T bank building, waiting for the all-clear. They were still waiting two hours after the evacuation.
A fire alarm sounded and employees left the building on Chapel Hill and Duke streets around 2 p.m. The adjacent streets were still closed at 4 p.m.

Update: The suitcase was found to contain clothing.

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    Man left suitcase, fled after security guard approached

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Jailed Wake County public school student is free to go

Posted by on Thu, Mar 27, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Supporters of Selina Garcia— the 17-year-old Southeast Raleigh high school student who has been in jail for three weeks following a school bus fight— packed a Wake County courtroom Thursday.

Garcia pleaded guilty to charges of simple assault and communicating threats regarding two minor altercations in school, in which no injuries occurred.

She received credit for twenty days’ time served and may be allowed to expunge the convictions from her record down the road.

“I admit to my actions, they were wrong,” Garcia told a Wake County judge. “I know I need to set a better example, especially when I’m preaching and fighting for things to be right. I don’t like being known as this type of person and I’m ready to make this change.”

Assistant county attorney Al Singer said a placement—a group home in Burlington— had been secured for Garica, who is in foster care, but Singer said the county is open to working to find a placement for Garcia in Raleigh.

Garcia is free to leave the jail on Hammond Road where she has been held.

Courtney Fauntleroy, Garcia’s defense attorney, said that Wake County Detention Centers are not supposed to be stand-ins for foster care.

But when asked if Garcia “fell through the cracks,” Singer said “the crack was created partially because of her behavior.”

“She was in between placements and we had to find a new placement,” he said. “Efforts were made to find a new placement.”

Members of N.C. HEAT, the student advocacy group for civil rights and justice in schools, were among Garcia’s supporters, clad in green.

Several said they felt Garcia’s case was handled inappropriately by everyone involved.

“One thing that’s not being talked about here is the criminalization of youth of color,” said Sanyu Gichie. “Selina is a youth of color and she has been targeted by officers, by school administrators and even the principal."

“Selina is a good person,” Gichie continued. “She wants to make sure other students are not in her same situation. She should never have been in prison and the fact of the matter is, the foster care system is broken.”

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    Selina Garcia released following court appearance on assault charge

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Changes in store for Durham Civilian Police Review Board

Posted by on Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 8:20 PM

The Durham Civilian Police Review Board made a list of recommendations to change how it conducts its business, but scheduled a vote on these proposals for next month.

At its Feb. 26 meeting, the board announced it would vote on proposed recommendations to its scope and duties. These aspects of the board have been sharply criticized by many members of the public in light of several officer-related shootings by the Durham Police Department.

"We were told to our face: 'What are you doing, what can you do and how can you change?'" Carlos Siu, board vice chair, said.

Yet, at sparsely attended meeting Wednesday night—there were just four members of the public in the audience—the board laid out potential improvements and changes to the scope of its duties.

The board did not vote on the recommendations, saying it needs more time to finesse the language and develop the proposal more thoroughly. It scheduled its next meeting for the evening of Monday, April 7.

Here is a list of the recommendations:
  • The complaint form should be modified and made more publicly accessible.
  • A complainant has 30 days, up from the current limit of 14 days, to appeal the determination letter of the internal affairs department.
  • A staff member of internal affairs should be available for questions by the board.
  • The response letter to complainants should include the range of disciplinary actions that could have been taken, plus list the policy the board and IA used to assess the officer.
  • The board should issue a quarterly performance review report submitted by internal affairs.
  • Annual reports of the board should be posted on the city manager's website.
  • The board would hold one community form per year.
  • Develop a pamphlet that explains the scope and duties of the board.
  • The board's letter to complainants would list the range of discipline that can be assessed on an officer.
  • Include language on the city manager's website that explains the open records laws regarding the police department. Anyone can request and obtain records showing a list of suspensions, demotions and terminations of officers—and the dates of those actions.
  • Customize the letter that goes to complainants explaining how the board arrived at its conclusion. Currently it's a form letter
  • Review the board's policy manual to clarify the language and reduce the legal jargon.

"People are asking that what this board is saying and doing will have some authority," said board chair DeWarren Langley. "Within the confines of the law we should ease comfort for people once file a complaint with board response will have some weight or authority. It's going to be difficult on our part. "

To the point that residents don't trust the process, earlier in the meeting, two Durham residents, James Michael Lynch and Renee Daunay, had requested appeal hearings before the board. They attended the meeting, but per board policy, could not be in the room during closed session when the panel discussed their cases. The board denied both appeal requests. 

Robin Dean Bell, who spoke last month before the Human Relations Commission, also attended. She alleged she was racially profiled. She said a police officer stopped her as she was delivering food to a friend, and searched her car for drugs without her permission. No drugs were found. Daunay told the INDY that she complained to the officer that she was being racially profiled, and he allegedly called her "an idiot."

Lynch complained that city police refused to investigate vandalism against his car, which was parked in a county parking deck near the courthouse. The car had decals on it critical of the sheriff's department; those decals had been defaced and ripped from the car exterior. Lynch told the INDY that a city police officer told him that it would take too much paperwork to investigate the case.

In other business, City Manager Tom Bonfield has selected a new board member to fill the vacancy left by James Elam. That person has yet to accept the appointment, so he or she was not named at the meeting. The new member will serve until 2015.

Look for updates in next week's INDY.

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    In recommendations, Civilian Police Review Board tries to engender trust of community

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Raleigh Planning Director Mitch Silver headed for Bill De Blasio administration

Posted by on Fri, Mar 21, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Mitch Silver, Raleigh's planning director since 2005, is leaving the city for a job as New York City Parks Commissioner under Mayor Bill De Blasio's administration.


Silver posted the news to Twitter shortly before 3 today. The New York Daily News also reported the story.
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    Silver tapped to lead one of New York's biggest departments

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wake County public school student still in jail 12 days after arrest

Posted by on Tue, Mar 18, 2014 at 7:46 PM

A student in Wake County Public School System arrested March 7 for allegedly fighting on a school bus has been held in the jail on Hammond Road in Raleigh for nearly two weeks.

17-year old Selina Garcia, a senior at Southeast Raleigh High School, was arrested and taken to jail by a school resource officer “to learn a lesson” following allegations of Level II misconduct— “physical aggression/fighting” and “class activity/disturbance.”

Garcia is in foster care and no one has yet come to pick her up from the county detention center.

No bail has been set for Garcia's release.

Garcia wrote in a letter to members of NC HEAT—a student advocacy group for civil justice in public schools— that her time in jail “isn’t going to slow me down nor stop me.”

“In here I am no longer Selina Marie Garcia,” she wrote. “I am #34. Not a human being but a caged animal.”

Members of NC HEAT showed up to a Wake County school board meeting Tuesday evening in orange prison jumpsuits, pleading with board members to do something about the school-to-prison pipeline that has claimed another student in Wake County.

Garcia said she is falling behind in her school work and her arrest could cause her to lose scholarship grants from the North Carolina Division of Social Services that would provide her with a way to pay for college.

Check the blog for updates on this story. 
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    "No end in sight" for incarcerated Southeast Raleigh senior, arrested for allegedly fighting on school bus.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ex-DENR employees unload on Department under Skvarla, McCrory

Posted by on Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 11:41 AM

At a public panel hosted by the Sierra Club in Durham Thursday evening, three former employees of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) wasted no breath in criticizing what DENR has become in the wake of McCrory’s budget and staffing cuts and under the leadership of the Department’s Secretary, John Skvarla.

Amy Adams, George Matthis and John Dorney— all DENR veterans who served under various administrations—pointed to low morale, a climate of fear and a lack of regard for science and scientific data as being major problems plaguing DENR since Skvarla took the helm.

Ken Reckhow, professor emeritus at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, moderated the discussion.

“If you’re being told that you have to ‘put a smile’ on your work plan, there must be a problem,” Matthis said. “There are people there, including some management and supervisors, who are afraid to speak out about anything anymore because they’re worried their job could be the next to go.”

Adams, a former regional office supervisor for surface water protection, has been one of the most vocal critics of the changes at DENR, especially since Duke Energy’s coal ash spill at the Dan River last month.

Adams told the panel that earlier that day she saw a letter from Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good meant to detail the company’s plans to clean up its coal ash ponds across the state.

Duke is on deadline to submit those plans to McCrory and Skvarla by Saturday.

“The term woefully inadequate comes to mind when I read this letter,” Adams said about the four-page document.

Adams said the letter did not provide any details— a timeline, cost analysis, prioritization—of how the cleanup efforts would unfold.

Good has said she expects ratepayers to bear the cost of cleanup for most of the coal ash sites in the state.

Matthis, who worked at DENR for 33 years in water quality, coastal management and waste management, had some of the harshest words for Skvarla—an attorney and businessman— and Governor McCrory.

“(Skvarla) is either environmentally ignorant or he’s misguided,” Matthis said. “Even though he’s spent some time with an ecological restoration company as CEO in Raleigh, he really doesn't have the environmental experience people think he does…Even folks that are inside the corporation he used to work for would say he really isn't in tune with the environmental side of things.”

Matthis said he doesn't think the state has ever had a DENR secretary who “enjoys making a public spectacle of the Department like this.”

He criticized Skvarla for what he called “a level of unprofessional-ism that doesn't belong in a cabinet secretary,” citing him for his misguided statements on climate change and oil as a renewable resource, his defensiveness during press conferences and his publicly calling out an environmentalist attorney at an Environmental Review Commission meeting.

“In all my time with DENR… I just don’t recall any actions taking place like that,” he said. “It has damaged DENR’s credibility and tarnished their image of being the protector of our air and water resources.”

Matthis also criticized “Governor Flip-Flop” for his wavering positions on what Duke Energy should be doing to address its coal ash pollution, and said he would prefer a leader who takes a strong position and sticks with it—even if he has to apologize for it later.

“I don’t understand how you can come out very strongly on a position like coal ash ponds needing to be cleaned up and then a day or two later change your mind and say we need to study it more,” Matthis said about McCrory. “And then you look at the press and see you’re getting negative reviews, go back the other way again and demand it get cleaned up.”

Matthis indicted the Legislature as well, for the Regulatory Reform Act (HB 74), fast-tracking fracking and turning down $600 thousand in federal grants for wetland monitoring and surface water testing in areas where fracking could take place.

Matthis said the Mining and Energy Commission is stacked with “hired guns for industry” who simply ignore scientific data presented to them if it is not in line with their position.

He urged the audience to attend Mining and Energy meetings and voice their opposition to fracking.

All of the panelists agreed that while DENR has always had its problems, under Democratic and Republican administrations alike, they had never seen the situation this bad before and that DENR, in John Dorney’s words, now “serves at the pleasure of the Governor.”

Matthis referenced Skvarla’s notorious comment about living in lean-tos and wearing loincloths “if environmentalists got their way” to highlight the irony of current DENR activities.

“Maybe our environmental protection is being set back to the point that we should all be wearing loin cloths and living in lean-tos,” he said. 
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    Panelists say DENR reputation is tarnished, environmental protection going backwards.


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Wonder if this has anything to do with that Joe Vincoli kerfuffle. Boyle was certainly vocal enough about trying to …

by Mojo on DPS says top official's resignation unrelated to inmate death investigation (News)

Would that be Lorrie L. Dollar, wife of Nelson Dollar (R-ALEC36)?

by Mojo on Department of Public Safety official Ellis Boyle steps down (News)

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