CHAOS IN SCOTLAND NECK AFTER
TRAGIC TASER INCIDENT
By Cash Michaels
As the State Bureau of Investigations continues to probe why a 61-year-old deaf, unarmed black man was tasered to death three weeks ago by a Scotland Neck police officer, the outgoing mayor says the incident is indicative of the racism that has historically marred the small Halifax County town.
In a telephone interview with The Carolinian Tuesday night, Mayor James Mills, who leaves office on Dec. 20th, said the circumstances surrounding the taser incident were “suspicious.”
“I’m impatient with the way that this happened,” Mayor Mills told The Carolinian. “I’m not happy at all with the way that this happened.”
It was Nov. 21st when Roger Anthony, 61, riding his bicycle in the street, was approached by Scotland Neck Police Officer John Turner in a patrol car. Published reports say that when Anthony, who was deaf, did not respond to “repeated demands from an officer to get off his bike, the officer then used his stun gun.”
The victim fell to the ground off the bike, striking his head. He later declared brain dead at Pitt County Memorial Hospital
Anthony’s relatives say beyond being hard of hearing, the elderly man also suffered from seizures.
The officer involved has been placed on administrative leave pending completion of the SBI probe. It could be three months before the SBI issues its findings to the district attorney.
Mayor Mills says Anthony was a “small man weighing 125 pounds.” Riding his bike was a regular routine, so much so that most of the eight-man police department were familiar with him.
Officer Turner, however, was new to the force, on duty for just a month.
The mayor also says that a cousin of Roger Anthony was found dead last Sunday, though it has not been reported. Police say it was a suicide, Mills says, but the family doesn’t believe it.
The SBI is probing that as well, Mills says.
What disturbs Mayor Mills right now is that he is not being properly briefed by Police Chief Joe Williams, who is supposed to report to the mayor and town council.
Mills says Chief Williams, who is white, shut the black mayor out as soon as Mills took office in 2007. “It has not been a good relationship,” Mills said.
When reporters asked Williams why he doesn’t communicate with the mayor, he reportedly replied, “The mayor has my phone number.”
“He has answered only a few questions for me,” Mayor Mills says, who adds that there are only two other blacks on the town council out of five board members.
After he leaves on Dec. 20th, Mills says there will be only one.
Part of the reason for the tension is lasting resentment among some of the white administrators and board commissioners, Mills says, is because of his advocacy for fairness for the town’s poor black residents.
“Race relations are very bad here,” Mills says.
Scotland Neck is 68 percent black, according to the latest US Census figures from 2000. One-third of its population is living below the poverty line.
Mayor Mills became Scotland Neck’s first African-American elected to the office in Nov. 2007. The victory was marred, however, when the ten-year incumbent he beat, Robert Partin, joined by another defeated white commissioner, claimed voter fraud on the part of black voters, and challenged the results.
Then-Mayor Partin and Town Commissioner Kenneth Branch filed formal protests with the Halifax County Board of Elections alleging fraud in the town’s predominately black voting precinct. Partin claimed at least 70 voters used false addresses. Branch, a board member for eight years, said a large number of provisional ballots enabled his challenger, Verita Evans, a black woman, to defeat him. Both Partin and Branch lost by slim margins.
Evans was the first black woman ever elected to the board in the town of 2300. Branch’s complaint was dismissed immediately. Both Evans, and Mayor Mills said the controversy and allegations spoiled their victories, and that the white incumbents were making scurrilous charges only against blacks.
In March 2010, Mayor Mills was arrested by Scotland Neck police and charged with driving with a revoked license just days after he was officially re-elected. The results of the original 2009 re-election were contested, forcing the State Board of Elections to order it be done again in 2010.
Later that year, Mayor Mills and two other black town commissioners refused to attend the town board meeting to challenge the residency of a sitting white commissioner.
Mills lost his bid for a third term last November to retired businessman Leonard Bunting. Bunting thanked the Police Benevolent Association, “ for their support.”
Scotland Neck has certainly seen its share of controversy and bad news within the past few years.
In October, unknown shooters were firing their weapons on the streets for several days in a row. Though he had no suspects, Chief Williams vowed to stop them.
No one was ever arrested.
And in April 2009, “two white men allegedly fire bombed a duplex apartment on Greenwood Street in Scotland Neck. This fire burnt the duplex to the ground and caused fire damage to two adjacent homes. The bombing also displaced four families from their residence, including one African American woman 80 years old who has lived there for more than fifty years,” according to the State NCNAACP, which investigated the incident, along with the SBI.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS
NC REP. LARRY WOMBLE, IN CAR ACCIDENT, ALERT AFTER SURGERY
[WINSTON-SALEM] At presstime, Guilford County Democrat Rep. Larry Womble is reportedly “alert,” and responsive, but still listed as critical at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital as he recovers from a tragic car accident last Friday evening. Womble, 70, under went surgery Tuesday morning, and remains in ICU. His vital signs, his doctors say, are stable. Investigators say Womble’s car crossed the centerline, colliding with another vehicle head-on, killing the driver. There was no evidence of speeding, drugs or alcohol, though blood samples are still being examined. No charges have been leveled at presstime. Doctors say Womble has “several broken bones” and will undergo a series of treatments. Best wishes, including from Gov. Beverly Perdue, have been sent to Rep. Womble and his family.
COMPENSATION FIGURE TOO LOW, EUGENICS VICTIMS SAY
[RALEIGH] Gov. Perdue’s Eugenics Task Force met again Tuesday to consider what level of compensation for victims of forced sterilization it should recommend that the governor send to the Republican-led General Assembly next year. So far, consensus of the committee seems to be between $20,000 and $50,000 dollars per victim, or per deceased victim’s estate. But when victims had their chance to speak, they called the figures cited “an insult,” adding that the grief and pain they’ve experienced after many years of having their ability to reproduce taken away from them by the state, deserves more consideration and compensation. House Speaker Thom Tillis agrees that the victims should be compensated by the state, but has not stated a figure.
SPEAKER SAYS EXPECT NEW VOTER I.D. BILL DURING SPRING SESSION
[MATTHEWS] A compromise voter ID bill is likely to be introduced during the spring session of the GOP-dominated NC General Assembly, says House Speaker Thom Tillis. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Republican told an audience in Matthews Monday evening said his party hasn’t given up trying to override Gov. Beverly Perdue’s veto of the stringent voter ID bill the Legislature passed last summer, which required voters to display a valid government-issued photographic identification card at the polls. Tillis said Republicans may now require ID without a photo. Democrats say GOP efforts at voter ID is really about suppressing black, Latino, youth and other traditionally Democratic voters come the 2012 presidential elections.
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS
DEMOCRATS TAKEOVER WAKE SCHOOL BOARD
A five-member Democratic majority, promising tom lead in a thoughtful, more inclusive fashion, was sworn-in Tuesday to the Wake County School Board, ending two controversial, divisive years of Republican rule. District 3’s Kevin Hill was returned to the chairmanship that was taken from him in 2009, and District 4’s Keith Sutton was elected board vice chairman, replacing District 2 Republican John Tedesco. Republican board members tried to pit Sutton against Hill by supporting Sutton for chair, but seeing the plot, Sutton declined. The new majority says it will, among other issues, work to fine tune the new school choice assignment plan to stave off more high poverty schools.
RALEIGH MAYOR MCFARLANE, NEW COUNCIL, SWORN-IN
For the second time in Raleigh’s history, a woman has been sworn-in to lead the city as mayor. Mayor Nancy McFarlane and the new Raleigh City Council to their oaths Monday, and went right to work Tuesday. McFarlane succeeds Mayor Charles Meeker, who stepped down from office after ten years, tying the record with the late Raleigh Mayor Avery Upchurch.
DURHAM COMMITTEE ON AFFAIRS OF BLACK PEOPLE ELECTIONS TONITE
After 14 years, Dr. E. Lavonia Allison, president of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, will step down this evening as the once powerful grassroots organization elects new leadership. Two candidates in line to succeed Dr. Allison include Second Vice Chair Larry Hester, and Rev. Phillip Cousin, pastor of St. Joseph’s A.M.E. Church.
PROUD - Raleigh District C City Councilman Eugene Weeks, seen here with his wife, Wilma, smile proudly after he was sworn-in Monday evening. Mr. Weeks won election to a full term in October after finishing out the unexpired term of former Councilman James West. [Photo courtesy of Ms. Christina Jones]
NNPA STORIES - THE HERMAN CAIN TRAIN DERAILS
BISHOP LONG WITH WIFE VANESSA
CASH IN THE APPLE
By Cash Michaels
GEE HERMAN, WHAT HAPPENED? - Boy, to add insult to indignity after she forced GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain to bow out of the race last Saturday, Ginger White, the woman who alleged she had a 13-year affair with Cain (he denied, but we know the real deal Herman), capped homeboy at the kneecaps in an interview with The Daily Beast.
White says once while she and Cain were allegedly having relations, “I was looking up at the ceiling, thinking about, ‘What am I going to buy at the grocery store tomorrow?”
If that’s the best Squirmin’ Herman could do in the inspiration department, then maybe it’s fortuitous that his wife, Gloria, yanked his chain off the campaign trail last week and read the riot act to him.
The fact of the matter is Herman Cain was a disaster of a presidential candidate from the very beginning. No one took him seriously.
Well, let me amend that.
No one with any sense took Herman Cain seriously, because Cain was a presidential candidate in name only.
Yep, it was one great big Ponzi scheme from the word go. One hyped up book tour designed to entrench the name Herman Cain into the culture, and make him a permanent player on the political scene.
You know, similar to the gig Sarah Palin now has. All she really wanted to do was to make lots of money, have a high profile, keep people guessing while she made all that that money and built that celebrity, and earn her place at the table of GOP powerbrokers.
Cain hopes that his brand hasn’t been hurt with all of the sexual harassment allegations, so he’ll chill out for a while, or show up once and a while on Fox News running his mouth about why Barack Obama isn’t black, and why black people are still ignorant (I know, I know, Cain said brainwashed, but is there really a difference?).
One more thing, to all of you so-called “black” Republicans.
The Cain fiasco has set your cause back 100 years. The next time a Republican of color stands up and stays he or she wants to be elected president, folks are really going to check ‘em out.
Do don’t go blaming the “liberal media” or anybody else. Blame Herman Cain!
He was never worth it!
And, quite frankly, neither are most of you!
BACK ON AN AIRPLANE - Last weekend, I spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday in phoenix, Arizona, beginning preproduction work on an exciting new project that CashWorks HD Productions is involved in. Can’t tell you the name of the project yet, or what it’s about until I get the all clear sign, but suffice it to say, if it’s worth my flying all the way to Arizona for, then it will definitely be worth seeing when we finally put it all together.
Lord knows it’s a challenge, similar to my last big project, “Obama in NC: The Path to History,” but that’s what makes it so exciting. And once again, it deals with an important part of our history. That fires me up even more.
So I promise, when the time is right, I’ll be proud to tell you all about it.
I will say that the folks that welcomed me to Arizona - Joe and Mario - couldn’t have been nicer, or more generous, so I’m looking forward to a great partnership with them.
But what I can talk about was my experience flying.
What was noteworthy about that was it was my first time in nine years.
Yep, the last time I hopped a plane was in 2002 when my wife and I went on our honeymoon to Montego Bay, Jamaica.
That, obviously was one year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, so a lot of security measures were in place that Americans had never experienced before.
Fast forward now to December 2011 - my first plane ride in almost a decade.
I had to learn some new things that simply rocked me out my socks. For instance, like the government restriction on what you can (and cannot take) take aboard a plane.
One carry-on bag weighing more than 40 pounds, and one personal “item,” and that’s it.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand why the restriction. It just made packing for a three-day weekend difficult, especially since I had to take not only clothing (thank goodness nothing formal), but also two video cameras, sound equipment, and other equipment necessary to pull off the assignment.
Plus my computer.
So what made packing difficult, you ask?
Well, for one, since I had to limit the amount of equipment I took, I had to also carefully review what I took to make sure that some TSA agent didn’t consider it …a weapon. I simply was not in the mood to explain to someone not only that I wasn’t a terrorist (except at home when I’m hungry), but that just because a piece of equipment designed to hold a miniature lamp for your video camera had an edge (two really), that doesn’t make it a potentially weapon to hijack a plane with.
So I left it home, though I really could have used it to make life easier on my assignment. You see, if some dumb TSA agent did consider my piece of equipment a weapon, they confiscate it, and I never see it again.
And that means I would have to buy another one, and never take it to another airport.
Then I had to decide, based on how much equipment I was taking (including backup stuff to make sure nothing stopped the job) how to pack them in the same bag with three days worth of clothing and undies.
The long and short of it is the days of just throwing stuff in the bag and heading to the airport have long been over. That was made crystal clear to me once I got to the airport and had to go through TSA security.
The indignity of it all, having to take off your shoes and belt, having your one bag and personal computer bag (check anything else and it will cost you approximately a hundred bucks a bag) electronically scanned, and then having your body neutron searched as well, only to grab your stuff (once cleared), find a seat somewhere, and put your shoes and belt back on, is indeed humbling.
Given the project I’m working on, no doubt I’ll be flying a bit more frequently in the coming months, so I guess I might as well stop complaining, and get used to it.
They tell me it keeps me safe while up in the air.
Yeah, but at what cost, and will it ever end?
Don’t bother, I think I know the answer.
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online atwww.Power750.com. And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my new blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/01/cash-roc-begins.html). I promise it will be interesting.
Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Columnist Cash Michaels was also honored by the NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009, and was the recipient of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP’s President’s Award for Media Excellence in Sept. 2011.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.