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CASH IN THE APPLE FOR 12-17-15
By Cash Michaels
“THE FORCE AWAKENS” – This is the week folks have been waiting for, the opening tonight of the long-awaited “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” It has been at least ten year since the last Star Wars film, so the worldwide buildup to this one is certainly noteworthy.
One of the reasons why this new film has been deemed so special before anyone ha actually seen it is because it reminds many of us older heads what it was like to have true event movies come during the holidays that the whole crew – be it your family or classmates – want to all get together and see.
When the first Star Wars film came out in 1977, it shocked the world because it was imaginative and fun. It introduced us to fresh stars like Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and, of course, Harrison Ford. The producer was a young man named George Lucas, whose only previous film of note was “American Graffiti.”
Needless to say, “Star Wars” became a worldwide smash, and like “Jaws” before it, set the pace for all of the action and space adventure films and TV shows we still have today.
The two subsequent films – ‘The Empire Strikes back” and “Return of the Jedi” helped to cement the Star Wars brand into the culture, and with the exception with three not-so-great subsequent prequels, the Star Wars legacy has withstood the test of time. Which brings us to today.
The new film brings back Fisher, Ford and Hamill to reprise their roles, but also introduces us to new characters and villains, which this new generation deserves.
Hopefully “The Force Awakens” can rekindle the excitement of the original, and establish legacy for today’s young people.
INSANE RACISM – Back in 1999, there was outrage when actor Will Smith portrayed legendary white television character ‘James West” in a big screen remake of the classic 60’s TV series, the “Wild, Wild West.” Smith is black, and a lot of folks were angry that he was playing a beloved white character. Even the original actor who starred as West on the TV series, Robert Conrad, said something like, “ How’d you like it if I played Dr. Martin Luther King?” What an idiot!
Last summer, the comic book characters from the “Fantastic Four” came back to the big screen, but this time the character of Johnny Storm, otherwise known as “the Human Torch” was portrayed by a black actor named Michael B. Jordan from the film “Fruitvale Station.” Long before the failed film opened, racist fans began complaining and tweeting all kinds of nonsense about Jordan and the role.
Two weeks ago, some seriously ignorant folks charged NBC-television with racism just because the broadcast network aired the all-black production of “The Wiz” live on-air. These geniuses had no idea that the program was actually based on the 1975 all-black production of “The Wiz” on Broadway starring Stephanie Mills.
So now, with the opening of the new “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” film tonight, there has been considerable controversy about one of the lead stars of the film, John Boyega, being black, and how, for some reason, this was an example of “Star Wars” being politically correct.
This nonsense makes you want to shake your head.
The film’s director/producer, J.J. Abrams told CBS’ “60 Minutes” Sunday that he wanted the film’s audiences to see a movie that looked like them – diverse. Thus, not only is one of the new lead characters black, but the star of the film is a woman. That’s called respecting your audience. Respecting the fact that all races and genders will be spending their money to see this film this weekend, and unless there is a very good reason, there is no reason to restrict the story of Star Wars to just white men and aliens alone. And yet, there are those who want to do exactly that because they have been brought up to believe that this is their world and no one else’s.
But from the very first Star Wars, that was never the case.
While there were black actors in the first Star Wars in 1977 (a mistake producer George Lucas admitted afterwards and promised to fix), the voice of perhaps one of the most infamous movie villains in history, Darth Vader, was that of none other than the extraordinary James Earl Jones. The character may have been white, but Jones imbued Vader with some evil pipes the world will never forget.
In the second film, Lucas kept his promised and introduced Billy Dee Williams, one of the premier black glamour stars of the 1980s, as scoundrel “Lando Calrissian,” a pivotal character who is first seen betraying Luke Skywalker, Hans Solo and Princess Leia to Darth Vader, but later changes course and becomes a hero, spilling over to the third film, “Return of the Jedi.”
By the way, there are folks asking why Williams is not part of the returning cast for “The Force Awakens,” but that’s another story.
In other Star Wars films, Samuel L. Jackson appeared as a Jedi knight. Last time I looked, Sam J. is black too.
So apparently a lot of folks who say they’re going to boycott the new Star Wars film because of the black people in it, just don’t know their movie history. Black people have always had a role to play in the telling of the Star Wars saga. I can’t think of a greater punishment than to make them all buy a ticket, and then handcuff them to their seats at the theater during the film until they get it through their heads that black people are here to stay, have always been here, and will continue to be here.
And not even “The Force” can change that.
''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at www.waug-network.com. And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/01/cash-roc-begins.html).
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.
NC BLACK PRESS, NCNAACP & NNPA
PARTNER IN VOTER EFFORT
By Cash Michaels
[DURHAM, NC] The NCNAACP, NNPA and African-American newspapers associated with the NC Black Publishers Association (NCBPA) have now joined forces for the most massive nonpartisan voter registration, education, mobilization and ballot protection movement in North Carolina’s history for the 2016 elections.
Representatives of the NCNAACP met with NCBPA publishers Dec. 11 in Durham, along with black publishers from two South Carolina publications, and Dr. Benjamin Chavis, president/CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. All participants agreed that the upcoming 2016 presidential, congressional, legislative and gubernatorial elections are too critical to the African-American community across the Carolinas, and the nation, for the Black Press not to be involved in working with the NCNAACP, and also the South Carolina NAACP, in this major effort.
“The Carolinas is one of the largest regions for reaching African-Americans,” Dr. Chavis, who called the Black Press “…the trusted print voice” in the black community, told those gathered. “North Carolina and South Carolina are key for a massive voter outcome. A partnership between the Black Press and the NAACP is critical.”
Speaking via speakerphone from Raleigh, Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the NCNAACP, said that the civil rights organization has always had an historic relationship with the Black Press. He called black newspapers “important” in helping to get the word out about the It’s Our Time, It’s Our Vote mass voter engagement campaign first announced Dec. 1st, adding that he was “…excited about where we’re headed.”
Rev. Barber reminded all about the upcoming Tenth Annual Mass Moral March/Historic Thousands on Jones Street People’s Assembly, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016 in downtown Raleigh. Widespread promotion of the event – which drew over fifteen thousand participants from across the state and nation last year – has already begun, said Rev. Curtis Gatewood, The NCNAACP’s HK on J coalition coordinator.
“Our partnership is needed to help push HK on J, which will be a big part of our massive Get Out the Vote effort,” Rev. Gatewood, who confirmed that voter registration will be taking place at the event, said. John Stean II, NCNAACP communications and media coordinator added that he will be working directly with getting timely HK on J information out to black newspapers.
This is not the first time North Carolina’s Black Press and the NCNAACP have worked together in a mass voter campaign. In 2008, with the blessing of then national NAACP Pres. Benjamin Jealous, both groups partnered for the Million Voter March, which helped to register a record number of black voters, ultimately winning the state for the historic election of President Barack Obama.
Same-day registration and a longer one-stop/early voting period without photo ID was in force at that time, but in 2013, a Republican-led NC Legislature changed all of that to make it harder for blacks and young people to cast their ballot.
The NCNAACP and its legal partners have fought to strike down new voter restrictions in federal court, but a federal judge still hasn’t rendered his decision on the first part of the case heard last July, and a new trial focusing on stopping voter photo identification is tentatively scheduled for January, but that could be delayed. So even though an injunction against implementing photo ID has been requested, Rev. Barber said it’s not clear what voting rules will be in force for the March 15, 2016 North Carolina primary.
Dr. Chavis, Rev. Gatewood and all in attendance agreed the Black Press/NCNAACP partnership is needed not only to promote “real leaders” and positive movements in the African-American community, but also provide balance to the historically negative reporting by the mainstream media, which has stoked violence and confusion.
The South Carolina primary is Saturday, Feb. 20th, 2016, and even though African-Americans comprise over fifty percent of SC Democrats, it is still considered urgent to maximize voter registration, education and mobilization efforts there, NCBPA Pres. Mary Alice Thatch said in a statement.
Pres. Thatch noted, “It is essential that the message of the Black Press to Black People be delivered to every African-American in the Carolinas and the nation. Why? Because the Black Press in the only voice we have guaranteed by the First Amendment [to] the Constitution, and the only media entity in present time that has the independence to champion our causes.”
“A campaign whose goal is the delivery of a “Black newspaper to every coffee table in an African-American residence in the Carolinas is essential,” maintained Pres. Thatch, who added the Black Press led the historic campaign several years ago which resulted in pardons of innocence for the Wilmington Ten, and broke the national story of Lennon Lacy, the black Bladenboro teen found hanged from a swing set in August 2014.
And that’s why the Black Press continues to need the unfettered support of the community it serves, advertisers who support the African-American community, and fairness in how major advertising and political dollars are spent in the black community, Pres. Thatch said.
Video still of Brockman's Nov. 30th traffic stop by state troopers in Archdale from
patrol dash-cam. Brockman is a co-sponsor of anti-racial profiling bill.
NC TROOPER ASSOC. WANTS
BLACK LAWMAKER TO RESIGN
By Cash MichaelsEditor
What first started out as a simple traffic stop involving one black state lawmaker and at least three white NC state troopers, has now ballooned into an apparent statewide effort, led by the state troopers association, to force the lawmaker to resign from office.
In the midst of the fallout, legitimate questions about why it indeed took three troopers to rush to what was just a seatbelt violation, why didn’t troopers know how to run legislative license plates, who tipped off a Charlotte TV station about the incident, and what, if any, political implications does the incident have?
State Rep. Cecil Brockman [D- Guilford] - who was a primary sponsor last March of a bill titled, “Prohibit Discriminatory Profiling,” along with fellow Democratic representatives Rodney Moore, Jean Farmer-Butterfield and Graig R. Meyer - admitted Monday afternoon that he “…was wrong for not having worn my seat belt” when he was stopped by the state Highway Patrol on Main Street in Archdale on Nov. 30th.
“It was a moment of deep frustration that I could have handled better,” the first-term High Point representative wrote on his Facebook page Monday. “However, having traveled less than a mile down the road, I was pulled over by not one, but three state troopers. I was treated with suspicion about my identity and accused of stealing my own car. All of this was due to a heightened sense of threat felt by the troopers. The heart of my issue with this incident lies with being treated with suspicion and being seen as a threat for no other reason I can figure than being black.”
However, that admission of wrong didn’t stop an outraged Sgt. Danny Jenkins, president of the NC Troopers Association, from blasting Rep. Brockman Monday on the group’s website, saying that his behavior during that traffic stop, and “…[state] House tag does not allow you an entitlement to break our laws.”
“It is shameful for someone of your position to accuse these officers of treating you poorly,” Sgt. Jenkins continued, “… as they were only doing their job, and the video clearly shows that the officers were polite and respectful to you the entire time. Sir, your conduct during this traffic stop would make even your supporters question your honesty and integrity. If you can not be civil and honest about a simple traffic stop, how can the people you represent trust anything you say or do?
After his statement under a section titled “Call to Action,” Sgt. Jenkins continues on, “…that [Brockman’s] accusations are lies.”
“I am calling for all of our Trooper and law enforcement supporters to demand his resignation,” Jenkins wrote. “He falsely accused a Trooper of mistreating him when he was clearly attempting to use his position as a lawmaker to bully the Trooper into not issuing a ticket. Is this the type of person that NC needs in the state house? I think not. Please share this status to spread then (sic) word.”
Jenkins finishes his missive with, “Let’s make him famous.”
On that same page is “Contribute to NCTroopers” and a donate button.
According to news reports, in 1996, the Troopers Association “…agreed to a court order requiring the caller to tell you he or she is a paid solicitor and that the group is not affiliated with the State Highway Patrol,” reported WRAL –TV in July 1999, adding that none of the funds goes to the state Highway Patrol.
The raw video of the Nov. 30th traffic stop in Archdale from the patrol car dash-cam shows the first-term Democrat from High Point acting annoyed when he is asked for his license and registration (Brockman hands over his license, but indicates that he doesn’t have the car registration) by Trooper J.D. Allred, and then telling the trooper that he is a state legislator, apparently hoping that he’ll be released with just a warning.
“I just think it’s amazing that you can really write a ticket to a state representative who was literally at the [bank] just to here and that you guys literally think that this is any type of; I don’t know what you guys think this is doing. This is very frustrating,” Brockman is heard saying from behind the driver’s seat.
Another trooper is seen standing on the passenger side of Rep. Brockman’s vehicle looking inside and watching the driver carefully.
Interestingly, none of the three troopers knew how to run Brockman’s NC House issued license plate for a positive identification, having to refer to the vehicle identification number (VIN) inside the driver side windshield instead.
The video – which had two minutes of dead audio during Trooper Allred’s conversation with Brockman – also showed the representative charging that he would have been treated differently if he were a white legislator.
“I’m very pissed off. I think if I was a white representative that you guys would’ve been like ‘ok, sorry sir.’”
The trooper, who has been even-tempered and professional up until this point, exhibits apparent exasperation in rejecting the charge, telling Brockman that race had nothing to do with why he was stopped. Trooper Allred continues that because the representative wouldn’t pull over right away, he called for extra backup as a precaution.
A state Highway Patrol spokesperson said the extra backup call is standard for “safety reasons.”
In published reports, Rep. Brockman has said, "This is the same excuse that we hear from law enforcement every single time an innocent black male gets shot and killed. The response by the law enforcement is they felt threatened."
Politically, state Republicans have salivated hanging Rep. Brockman out to dry for the incident.
NC Republican Party Chairman Hassan Harnett joined the political fray, issuing a statement saying, “Our state troopers put their lives on the line everyday and deserve more respect (including from our state's elected officials). Even if it means reaching deep within himself, Rep. Brockman should apologize to the troopers immediately."
And within minutes of the dash-cam video being aired on WBTV Saturday, state Rep. Justin Burr, the GOP representative from Albemarle, tweeted that Brockman “… should be ashamed of his behavior and accusations. Those state troopers were just doing their jobs.”
Rep. Burr is the brother of the Highway Patrol’s legislative liaison Jarrett Burr, to whom Brockman complained to after the incident. There is speculation that WBTV was tipped off allegedly because of this connection, and immediately filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the tape as a result.
Since Gov. McCrory’s Republican administration took office, media organizations have complained that it has taken months, not days, for FOIA requests to be granted, adding further to the speculation that the Republican response has been quite coordinated.
Online, supporters of the troopers blasted Rep. Brockman, saying that his behavior was wrong and he had no business using his legislative position to get out of being ticketed for a seatbelt violation.
African-Americans weighing in agreed that what Brockman did was wrong, especially not wearing his seatbelt during the annual “Click it or Ticket” campaign. They also agreed that he was wrong in his demeanor. But it still troubled many that it took three troopers to be involved in the traffic stop, especially given documented evidence that North Carolina law enforcement are more likely to stop young black males than anyone else on the road, but find more illegal contraband during white traffic stops.
And they wholeheartedly disagreed with calls for Rep. Brockman to resign, saying that all he needed to do was just apologize for his actions.
“No, he shouldn't resign,” posted Steve Harrison on Facebook Tuesday, “… and somebody from the Trooper's Association needs to explain why a seatbelt violation (if they even noticed beforehand) is grounds for a reckless high-speed chase for a block-and-a-half. The Trooper driving almost smacked a pickup truck in his haste to run down the "suspect."
Coalition of Civic Organizations Sue North Carolina for Failing to Comply with Federal Voting Rights Obligations
The state of North Carolina is being sued over state’s violations of Sections V and VII of the National Voter Registration Act
GREENSBORO, N.C.–Widespread disenfranchisement and a steep decline in voter registration activity have led a coalition of civic organizations and voters to file a lawsuit against the state of North Carolina for violation of an important federal voting rights law.
On Dec. 16th, attorneys for Action NC, Democracy North Carolina, the North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) and three individual North Carolina citizens filed suit against the state officials responsible for elections, public assistance programs and motor vehicle services for failing to provide federally mandated voter registration opportunities, in violation of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), in the U.S. District Court Middle District of North Carolina.
The NVRA, commonly referred to as the “Motor Voter” law, is aimed at increasing voting opportunities for eligible citizens by making voter registration accessible at the government locations people visit most frequently. The NVRA requires that public assistance agencies—like the agencies that run WIC, TANF, and Medicaid—and motor vehicle offices provide specific voter registration services to individuals whenever they apply for or renew public assistance benefits, driver’s licenses, or state-issued identification cards, as well as when they report a change of address to the relevant state agency.
“Simply stated, this lawsuit is about vindicating the right of every North Carolinian who interacts with a public assistance office or the Division of Motor Vehicles to register to vote with the confidence that when she goes to the polls, she will be able to cast a ballot and have that ballot counted,” said Matthew M. D’Amore, partner at Morrison and Foerster LLP, which, along with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Dēmos, Project Vote and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), are representing the plaintiffs on a pro bono basis.
Earlier this year, the plaintiffs sent letters to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) notifying them that they were violating the NVRA, and urging them to fix the problems and bring the state into compliance with the law. According to the plaintiffs, North Carolina failed to remedy its NVRA violations in response to the letters.
“We had hoped that we could work cooperatively with the State to ensure that individuals were being provided the voter registration services federal law requires,” said Bob Hall, Executive Director of Democracy North Carolina. “Unfortunately, these North Carolina agencies have dragged their feet on fixing the problems we identified in our letters, and it has become clear that federal litigation is necessary to bring North Carolina into compliance with the NVRA.”
State data show a steep decline, beginning in 2012, in the number of voter registration applications originating from public assistance agencies, far exceeding any change in the public assistance caseload.
“North Carolina’s public assistance agencies are routinely failing to provide NVRA-mandated voter registration services,” said Allison Riggs, Senior Attorney at Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “Extensive interviews conducted at public assistance offices in 11 counties found rampant lapses in compliance with the law, lapses that are having a huge impact on North Carolina voters.”
“The recent drop in agency-based voter registration applications cannot be explained by voter apathy or a dearth of competitive elections,” said Pat McCoy, Executive Director of Action NC. “In 2014 there were some highly competitive elections in North Carolina and, because the state has not been meeting its voter registration obligations, organizations like ours have had to pick up the slack and carry on the work that is and should be the state’s responsibility, under the NVRA.”
“The NVRA requires that public assistance agencies provide voter registration services in order to help low-income individuals and persons with disabilities—folks who are less likely to come into contact with motor vehicle agencies—get registered and participate in the American political process,” said Melvin Montford, Executive Director of the North Carolina APRI.
North Carolina is also failing to place many voters on the rolls when they attempt to register at DMV offices. The state is similarly failing to offer required voter registration services to individuals who renew their driver’s licenses or non-driver identification cards through the mail or on the DMV website.
“A significant number of individuals across North Carolina—including our client Sherry Holverson— were forced to vote provisionally in the most recent election, despite having requested to register or update their registration through the North Carolina DMV,” said Catherine M. Flanagan, Senior Counsel for Project Vote. “For example, over 150 individuals in Mecklenburg County alone were unable to cast a regular ballot in the 2014 General Election because of apparent DMV errors in processing their voter registrations.”
Ms. Holverson, one of the individual plaintiffs in this case, is a qualified North Carolina voter who changed her registration information at a DMV office after moving from one county to another in 2014. When Ms. Holverson went to cast a ballot in the 2014 General Election, she was told that her name was not on the registration rolls and was given a provisional ballot. As a result, Ms. Holverson was disenfranchised because her provisional ballot was not counted due to DMV record-keeping errors.
“Our clients did everything right: they visited the DMV before the deadline for registering to vote; they indicated that they wanted to register to vote or update their voter information; and they left the DMV having been told that they would be registered to vote,” said Stuart C. Naifeh, Senior Counsel at Dēmos. “But when they showed up to vote in the 2014 election, their names were not on the list of registered voters. Because of the DMV’s violations of the law, these North Carolina citizens were deprived of their right to vote.”
This is not the first time North Carolina has had to bring its voter registration procedures into compliance with the law. In 2006, voting rights advocates brought compliance problems at public assistance agencies to the attention of the Executive Director of the State Board of Elections, and cooperatively developed a plan that, until 2011, dramatically improved the state’s compliance with its voter registration obligations at public assistance offices. See Dēmos, Expanding Voter Registration for Low-Income Citizens: How North Carolina is Realizing the Promise of the National Voter Registration Act, April 2008.
According to today’s complaint, “[t]his history shows that compliance with the NVRA is achievable and results in a substantial increase in public assistance voter applications. The survey data and voter registration data available today demonstrate that the [state is] no longer in compliance, however, and that injunctive relief to remedy these violations is required.”
“The NVRA plays an essential role in both protecting and promoting the fundamental right to vote,” said Dorian Spence, associate counsel at Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “We look forward to securing an expeditious remedy to North Carolina’s violations of the NVRA and to seeing a more robust democratic process in North Carolina.”
The defendants in the lawsuit, all named in their official capacities, are Kim Strach, the Executive Director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections (SBOE); Rick Brajer, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, who oversees the operations of the state’s public assistance agencies; Kelly Thomas, Commissioner of the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles; and Nick Tennyson, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, who together oversee the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS FOR 12-17-15
NC GUBERNATORIAL RACE UPDATE – [RALEIGH] The March 15, 2016 primary race for governor is shaping up to be a contest on both sides. Former state Rep. Robert Brawley filed his papers to officially challenge incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory in the Republican primary, saying that he wanted to “bring back” honesty and integrity” to state government. Meanwhile, the NC Association of Educators formally endorsed state Attorney General Roy Cooper for governor, saying that his ideas “closely align with ours.” Cooper’s Democratic gubernatorial opponent, former state lawmaker Ken Spaulding blasted the NCAE, saying it was yielding to Democratic Party establishment pressure. Spaulding, a Durham Attorney who recently filed for the Democratic primary in March, says Cooper is n o real friend of the state’s teachers, since he allowed his office to represent Republican state lawmakers in court in their bid to end teacher tenure.
FOUR WHITE WINSTON-SALEM POLICE OFFICERS PROBED FOR DEATH OF BLACK MAN IN THEIR CUSTODY – [WINSTON-SALEM] Four white Winston-Salem police officers have been placed on administrative duty following the death of a black man in their custody after he was pepper sprayed. Travis Nevelle Page, 31m reportedly died after a brief struggle with the officers. Page’s relatives say he had health problems, including high blood pressure and bronchitis. The SBI is investigating. Lab and autopsy results will take two to three months. There have been calls to release police body cam video footage.
FBI SEARCHED HOME OF ACCUSED PLANNED PARENTHOOD KILLER
[SWANNANOA] A caravan of vehicles from the Federal Bureau of Investigation was seen pulling up to the abandoned home of Robert Dear Tuesday to begin searching for evidence. Dear is accused of fatally shooting three people, including a police officer and a war veteran during an assault on a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Colorado in November. Dear has not lived at his North Carolina address for the past year, neighbors say.
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS FOR 12-17-15
DURHAM RESIDENTS WANT OPEN PROCESS IN POLICE CHIEF CHOICE
With Durham Police Jose Lopez officially retiring at the end of the month, Durham City government has already hired a search firm to find who will serve as the next police chief. Monday evening that firm, Developmental Associates, told residents in a community meeting that applications will be taken in January, with an applicant screening in February and an assessment group determining the candidates in March. Residents, however, complained that the process did not sound transparent, and demanded more community input. Officials assured that community input would weigh heavily on the final selection.
FEDERAL TRIAL BEGINS ON REDRAWN WAKE SCHOOL BOARD, COMISSION MAPS
A trial in US District Court in Raleigh has begun in the matter of lawsuits against the Republican-led NC General Assembly’s redrawing of voting districts for both the Wake County School Board and the Wake County Commissioners. The school is majority Democrat, while the Commission board is all Democrat. Lawyers for both bodies say the districts were redrawn simply to lessen the influence of black and progressive voters in selecting local representatives to both boards. Republicans counter that the changes give suburban voters more say in how their board representatives are chosen. Those changes are scheduled to happen in 2016, unless a federal judge rules otherwise. All nine school board seats are at risk. Commission board seats have been increased from seven to nine, but have eliminated countywide seats.
DEMONSTRATORS MARCH TO END GUN VIOLENCE
With last weekend marking the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut which claimed the lives of 20 school children and six adults, demonstrators with “Moms Demand Action” marched in several North Carolina cities, including Raleigh, calling for an end to gun violence. They note that the carnage isn’t just about mass shootings, but domestic violence and suicides. The group also decried the lack of stringent government background checks.