Black Issues Forum: Removing Confederate Monuments & “Defund the Police”

Mary C. Curtis, a columnist for “Roll Call” and host of the “Equal Time” podcast; Morrisville Town Councilman Steve Rao; and LA Whittington-Kaminski with Advance Carolina and the NC Black Alliance join Black Issues Forum to break down a new lawsuit against Donald Trump, the latest effort to remove Confederate monuments in NC, and a new law enforcement funding bill.

The GOP talks a good game, but let’s review those conservative principles

What is the Republican Party in 2021? It’s easier to say what it’s not.

With a majority of the party’s House members voting to invalidate the results of a free and fair election, and a good chunk of its voters going along with the fantasy that Donald Trump was robbed, it’s clear the GOP is not a stickler for democracy or the Constitution. And with most Republican senators not interested in holding an impeachment trial for a former president accused of “inciting an insurrection,” Americans can be pretty sure the party is not too keen on accountability.

It’s not a new contradiction. But while it’s true that the GOP has long instructed voters not to “look behind the curtain,” the mess that is spilling out has become impossible to ignore. The sight of thousands of violent rioters storming the center of legislative government will do that.

So what are just a few of the slogans that have crumbled?

Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: Phase 3 Reopening, CMS Adjusts Return Plan, CMPD Officers Resign

On the local news roundup, North Carolina moves into Phase 3 of reopening. With the state’s coronavirus metrics stable, Gov. Roy Cooper is easing restrictions to allow bars and other entertainment venues to open with reduced capacity. We find out what that means and check in our COVID-19 numbers.

The first CMS students began returning to the classroom this week, with more on the way. And the school board holds an emergency meeting to adjust their return to school plan for elementary students.

Five CMPD officers connected to the in-custody death of Harold Easter resign ahead of video release.

And county elections boards across the state have begun to process tens of thousands of absentee ballots.

Our roundtable of reporters fills us in on those stories and more.

Guests

Steve Harrison, WFAE’s Political Reporter

Claire Donnelly, WFAE’s health reporter

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com and WCCB-TV

Nick Ochsner, Chief Investigative Reporter at WBTV

Ann Doss Helms, WFAE’s education reporter

To remember John Lewis, remember the real John Lewis — and his righteous fight

Many Americans, when they remember the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, reflexively turn to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, quoting selective passages about content of character. But my sister Joan, who stood under a shaded tent that day, making signs with freedom slogans for out-of-towners to raise high, had a different answer when I asked for her thoughts. Not to take anything away from King, she told me, “It wasn’t just that speech. It was all the speeches.” And what impressed her teenage self most were the words of a man who was just 23, a few years older than she was.

On that day, John Lewis was already stirring up the “good trouble” he favored when he said: “To those who have said, ‘Be patient and wait,’ we have long said that we cannot be patient. We do not want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now!”

It was a speech that, in an early draft, was a tad fiery for some elders in the movement for equality and justice. Lewis did tone it down — but not enough to lose its urgency.

Some of the tributes to Lewis, who died last week at the age of 80, emphasized his generosity of spirit, evident in his ability to forgive and embrace those who beat him into unconsciousness. But the picture is incomplete without acknowledging the impatience, the fury to make it right, that saw him through more than three dozen arrests, five after he was elected to Congress. Just as those who would have been or probably were in that majority of Americans who considered King a rabble-rouser then and revere him now, many are all too eager to recast Lewis as a secular saint who just wanted everyone to get along.

Of course, they would. It would let them off the hook.

There is more than one way to be Black — and to be an American

Elijah McClain of Aurora, Colorado, was many things. The slight 23-year-old, who looked younger, was a massage therapist one client described as “the sweetest, purest person I have ever met.” He was a vegetarian who taught himself to play the guitar and violin and shared his musical gifts with shelter animals to calm them. Family members said he sometimes wore a ski mask because he was anemic and always cold, and perhaps to create some distance in a world he found overwhelming. (And aren’t we all supposed to be covering our faces these days.) In his final trip to a convenience store, though, he interacted with the clerk and customers, it seemed from video, offering a bow on his way out.

Did he look “sketchy” and “suspicious” to a 911 caller and police because he sang to himself on the walk home and waved his arms, perhaps conducting a symphony only he could hear? McClain told the police who stopped him, “I am an introvert, please respect the boundaries that I am speaking.”

The three officers escalated the confrontation, took him down with a hold that made him utter a too-often-heard refrain: “I just can’t breathe correctly.” One officer threatened to sic a dog on him. If they saw his quirks, his idiosyncrasies, his joy, it did not translate. If they heard his pleas, these enforcers of laws the young man had not broken did not listen. “You are beautiful and I love you,” he told them. He apologized for vomiting as police tossed around his 140-pound body before medics shot it up with strong drugs.

Now, Elijah McClain, who police say committed no crime, is dead.

Special Program – Black Charlotteans: A Candid Conversation On Race

The death of George Floyd and the unrest that exploded across the country has forced a conversation on the table. It’s a wake-up call for America to examine the impact of racism and reckon with injustices people of color face daily. Every Black American has a story to tell. Is the country ready to listen? Award-winning columnist Mary C. Curtis sits down with fellow Charlotteans of color to share some of those stories and reflect on this moment.

Host:

Mary C. Curtis, journalist, speaker, columnist at CQ Roll Call, and contributor to WFAE, WCCB-TV and a variety of national outlets. She is senior facilitator with The OpEd Project.

Panelists:

Tracey Benson, assistant professor of educational leadership at UNC Charlotte and author of “Unconscious Bias in Schools: A Developmental Approach to Exploring Race and Racism.”

Justin Perry, owner and therapist at Perry Counseling Healing and Recovery. He is a partner with the group Charlotte for Black Futures

Tonya Jameson, political consultant, former Charlotte Observer reporter

Leondra Garrett, native Charlottean and longtime community advocate who works with the groups Block Love Charlotte and United Neighborhoods of Charlotte to build community and feed our homeless neighbors.

Mary C. Curtis: Lawmakers Work On Police Reform Legislation

CHARLOTTE, NC — WCCB political contributor Mary C. Curtis talks police reform as lawmakers of both parties work on a legislation.

Mary C. Curtis: Calls for Police Reform

CHARLOTTE, NC — Calls for police reform continue to grow in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis two weeks ago.

WCCB political contributor Mary C. Curtis discusses the changes happening on the local level and across the country.

POLITICAL WRAP: CMPD & Chemical Agents; Protest Reaction Worldwide

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Monday night, Charlotte City Council will talk about the use of chemical agents on protesters.

It comes as the SBI is looking into tactics officers used on Tuesday night.

Also, how protests for racial justice across the country are now getting worldwide attention.

Click above for more with WCCB Charlotte Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis.

Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: Charlotte Protests, CMPD Response; RNC May Leave Charlotte

Charlotte has faced several days of protests, both peaceful and violent, after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week. The protests have involved clashes with CMPD and many complaints about how the police have handled the protesters, but several police officers hope to have constructive conversation with the protesters. Thousands have hit the streets of Charlotte to protest, from Beatties Ford Road to uptown to Myers Park. We’ll talk through the demonstrations, the protesters, the chaos and the police response.

President Trump and the Republican National Committee are exploring other cities to hold the RNC this year, after Trump said this week that he’d move the convention out of Charlotte. We’ll talk about Gov. Roy Cooper’s negotiations with the RNC about having a safe convention in the midst of the pandemic and what options there still are to hold a part of the convention in the city.

We’ll give the latest on the coronavirus, as officials worry that the protests in Charlotte and the recent Phase 2 opening will result in a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Plus, we’ll have an update on the Mecklenburg County budget, which was approved this week, forcing Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour. We’ll have more on the discussions at that meeting as well.

Guests:

Erik Spanberg, managing editor at the Charlotte Business Journal

Glenn Burkins, founder and publisher of QCityMetro.com 

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com and WCCB 

Ann Doss HelmsWFAE education reporter