In the wake of a UNC student’s false report that he was badly burned in a homophobic hate crime, campus leaders now worry about what will happen the next time that a student is targeted.
“That’s the biggest fear that the community has right now in the aftermath of this is that people won’t be believed,” says sophomore Jeff DeLuca, co-president of UNC’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Straight Alliance. “We want to join with administration to make it clear that you will be believed.”
The student organization was already planning a community conversation Thursday on the incident when UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp announced Tuesday that campus police “determined that the alleged aggravated assault reported to campus last night did not occur.” One day earlier, Thorp had termed the incident a hate crime and pledged to “bring the strongest charges possible against the attacker.”
But Quinn Matney, a 19-year-old first-year student from Asheville, wasn’t truthful when he told UNC Department of Public Safety officers April 5 that an attacker overheard a conversation that identified Matney as gay, grabbed his left arm and scorched his wrist through his flesh while yelling, “Here’s a taste of hell, fag!”campus to national and even European media this week. Television cameras showed Matney’s wounds: 3rd and 4th degree burns, three damaged nerves and a partially severed tendon causing him to lose full mobility of his finger and allies mobilized in Matney support.
DeLuca says he can’t divulge exact details of what happened. That’s up to Matney, who is still enrolled at UNC and faces yet-to-be-filed charges for falsifying the police report. He has not responded to media inquiries since Tuesday’s development.
“We only know one thing: The report that he filed was false and no assault occurred. That’s the only thing we know and anything else is just conjecture,” DeLuca says.
“I really don’t like the word ‘hoax’ because it implies some kind of malicious intent or attempt to get attention. I know for a fact that’s not that what happened.”
The Chapel Hill Town Council will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday on the request by the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service (IFC) to establish a 52-bed shelter for homeless men near the intersection of Homestead Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The Council is not expected to vote on the matter, but rather to continue the public hearing to Monday, May 9, for additional discussion.
If approved, the proposed 16,000-foot shelter would sit on land owned by the University of North Carolina and leased to IFC for $1 a year. The permit application from IFC has been met with concern from some residents regarding its proximity to homes and apartments, a park and schools.
For more information, see our March 16 story about the public hearing.
Orange County Republicans didn’t win any seats in the 2010 election, but they did get an office—a physical headquarters.
Greg Andrews, who ran for Orange County commissioner, says the OC GOP hasn’t had a permanent location for as long as anyone can remember, but it desperately needed a place to organize.
“I said if we do not change the box we are operating in here, than in does not appear a Republican can get elected,” Andrews said. “We have to set up shop and be willing to move our cause.”
N.C. Rep. Bill Faison of Orange and Caswell Counties announced today that he will seek the N.C. Democratic Party chairman’s post.
“At stake is a better education for our children, a fairer society and a better life for all of our concerns, not just a select few,” Faison said in a press release. “We must take back the Legislature and keep a Democratic Governor in 2012. Failure would be devastating to our state for decades to come.”
Current chairman David Young announced in late November that he wouldn’t seek re-election when the party convenes in January to tap leaders. He served one two-year term. Faison, a medical malpractice attorney, was re-elected to the General Assembly in November, winning for a fourth time.
HILLSBOROUGH—OWASA’s draft plan to manage 1,900 acres of forest through controlled burning, selective thinning and herbicides elicited a volatile and combative response from neighbors Tuesday night.
More than 100 residents, mostly Cane Creek Reservoir watershed dwellers, attended the meeting at the Maple View Agriculture Center and questioned OWASA’s intent and integrity, the impact on wildlife, effects to their pastoral setting and to drinking quality, noting the potential for gasoline and hydraulic fluid spills and erosion at the 17 properties that were included in the plan.
They hired True North Forest Management Services, a Holly Springs-housed company, to complete an analysis of existing trees and to craft a management strategy. The N.C. Division of Forest Resources and N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission also reviewed the plan and defended it at the meeting.
“Trust me, there is sustainable, good forestry that can coexist with your neighbors,” said District 11 Forester John Howard, who lives near Cane Creek. “I’ve seen no effort to hoodwink anybody.”
David Halley, a registered forester with True North, attempted to sell residents on the plan by highlighting that 25 percent of the trees would be designated as part of riparian buffers and would not be harvested. He listed maintaining water quality, enhancing forest conditions for wildlife and improving tree standards as top priorities.
He also stressed that True North recommends harvesting trees at 45 years old, 10 years later than the industry standard, he said, so that the trees can reach their full beauty.
That did little to appease residents who pleaded with OWASA to reevaluate the plan. They complained that they didn’t have adequate time to review the cumbersome plan, released last month, that they weren’t notified of the meeting by OWASA and that the proposed riparian buffers were not large enough. They called for the creation of a citizen advisory board to help wade through the process.
Chris Blue is Chapel Hill’s next police chief, the town announced today.
Blue has served in the Chapel Hill Police Department for 13 years and will succeed Brian Curran, who will step down at the end of November.
“He will become a key part of improving the quality of life and making Chapel Hill a better place to live for all.”
HILLSBOROUGH — Lance Cpl. Carlos Ocampo now can count himself as a citizen of the country he’s willing to die for to protect.
A native Columbian, Ocampo moved to the United States and joined the marines, desperate to help defend the country from terrorist attacks.
“This country deserves to have its freedom, and I fight for that,” he says. “I felt like a citizen before, but right now it feels just great.”
Ocampo joined nine other military members during a naturalization ceremony at the Orange County Social Services Center in Hillsborough on Wednesday. They were born in countries across the world, Australia, Russia, Mexico, Liberia, Israel and South Korea, but they are all united by American ideals.
“You have these people who are wiling to make the ultimate sacrifice for what we believe in,” said Jeffrey Sapko, field office director for the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services office in Raleigh. “We believe in them, too.”
The Rogers-Eubanks Road Neighborhood Association is asking for your support as the group competes for a $50,000 grant from Pepsi to fund a community center and garden to unite neighbors.
After one month of voting, the project ranks No. 333 out of more than 1,000 hopefuls in the Pepsi Refresh Project and needs to reach top-10 status to earn the money.
The Rev. Robert Campbell of the Coalition to End Environmental Racism and the neighborhood association (RENA) says funding would be used to foster an exchange of ideas and a sense of place.
“It’s going to help with breaking down those invisible fences as well as those visible fences,” Campbell says. “We are trying to get neighborhoods to actually become a community.”
The area has been home to the Orange County landfill since 1972 and has had to battle smell, dump trucks, water and air quality and a host of other unpleasant issues.
Orange County voters elected newcomer Earl McKee as the District 2 county commissioner, welcomed Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass back for a seventh term and narrowly shot down a 1/4 cent sales tax hike that was endorsed supported by both school boards and chambers of commerce, according to unofficial election results.
Orange County Board of Elections Director Tracy Reams says she’s received several complaints from voters about overzealous, boisterous campaigners distributing literature at one-stop voting sites.
“They are saying that greeters outside are a little too aggressive and are shouting at them as they go by,” she says.
“Outside of the 50-foot boundary, I don’t have any authority over what they do or what they don’t do,” she says, adding that she would call the police if the shouts rise to the level of harassment.
Otherwise, no other problems have been reported at the three early-voting locations. More than 9,500 residents have cast ballots. Reams hopes to reach 15,000 before early voting ends on Saturday.