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2015 ends with more police injustice
BY CASH MICHAELS
FOR THE CHRONICLE
The week began with the city of
Chicago in mourning after police there
"accidentally" shot and killed 55-year-old
Bettie Jones on Dec.
27, an unarmed down
stairs neighbor who
had just opened the
door to let in officers
responding to a
call. Chicago police also killed college stu
dent Quintonio LeGrier at the same
address, who was said to have had a men
tal illness. LeGrier's father called police
for assistance when his son became angry
and began hitting the door with a baseball
bat. Ms. Jones was a devout church
woman, neighbors and relatives said. They
couldn't understand why Chicago police
couldn't use lasers to subdue young
LeGrier, instead of deadly force.
Embattled Chicago Mayor Rahm
Emmanuel rushed home from a 16-day
vacation, amid growing cries for his resig
nation, and a federal investigation into a
string of prior police killings in his city.
On Monday in Cleveland, Ohio, after
more than a year, Cuyahoga County
Prosecutor Timothy McGinty announced
that a grand jury did not indict two
Cleveland police officers for the
November 2014 fatal shooting of 12-year
old Tamir Rice, who had only a pellet gun
on him in a park when the officers imme
diately shot the child within two seconds
of pulling up on the scene. It became clear
that McGinty never sought to indict the
officers, but rather cajole the grand jury
not to hold them responsible, claiming that
the officers feared for their lives.
Tamir Rice's family and their attorneys
blasted McGinty, charging that it was
never his intention to hold the police offi
cers accountable, and instead blamed the
young boy for "looking older and bigger
than his age."
Back in Chicago on Tuesday, Chicago
Police Officer Jerry Van Dyke pled not
guilty to six counts of murder after being
seen on an October 2014 police video
allegedly shooting 17-year-old Laquan
McDonald 16 times, most of the shots hit
ting the young black teen as he laid help
less in the middle of the street, surrounded
by other police officers who never fired a
Thousands of demonstrators marched,
rallied and blocked traffic in downtown
Chicago leading up to the Christmas holi
days to protest the yearlong delay of the
release of the McDonald video, demanding
Mayor Emmanuel's resignation in the
aftermath of the firing of the police super
intendent there. McDonald's family had
already been paid a $5 million settlement
by the Chicago City Council long before
the video's release.
These cases, just this week, in addition
to a grand jury in Texas last week refusing
to indict any officers for the death of
Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black female
motorist found dead in her jail cell after
she was arrested for a minor traffic viola
tion, have set the stage for a tension-filled
2016 between law enforcement and the
communities of color which they serve.
Thanks to the Black Lives Matter move
ment, young people across the nation have
taken to the streets to peacefully, but force
fully, hold police departments accountable
for their seemingly unbridled use of exces
sive force against African-Americans.
In Minnesota, demonstrators blocked
an airport terminal after causing chaos at
the Mall of America right before
Christmas, all to protest the police shoot
ing death of Jamar Clark. Authorities have
reftised to release the video of the deadly
Observers contrast these recent inci
dents with what did not happen just last
Saturday night at a Louisville, Ky. mall, St.
Matthew, where 2,000 white teenagers
reportedly engaged fights, disruptive
behavior, harassment of customers and
store employees, and confrontations with
police officers to the point where rein
forcements from neighboring towns had to
be called, and the mall closed an hour
And yet, there were no arrests, and not
one officer fired a shot, even though there
were reports of gunshots heard prior to the
When asked why there were no arrests
for what many who were there called "a
riot," a police spokesperson said, "Our
focus was on restoring order and dispers
ing the crowd."
Police shooting victims
The Mass Moral March was spear
headed by the N.C. NAACP, which is
suing the State of North Carolina over the
2013 law that restricts voting rights. The
N.C. NAACP accuses North Carolina of
targeting minority and poor people to sup
press their voting rights.
The march was held on the first day of
the hearing in the lawsuit. N.C. NAACP
vs. McCrory lasted weeks. The judge has
not issued a decision in the case.
The lawsuit was divided after the state
of North Carolina this summer made a '
legal maneuver regarding voter IDs before
the trial began. The new law provides a
way for voters who say they could not get
an approved ID to vote.
The issue of police officers using dead
ly force against black people took the fore
front in 2014 with the fatal shooting of
Michael Brown, and it hasn't died down
because more cases have arisen. In
Winston-Salem, the family of Travis Page
and the African-American community
wait to see the video showing Page's arrest
and the reports that give details on what
happened when Page died in police cus
tody in November. People have protested
to get answers. Police Chief Barry
Rountree asked for calm and patience in
the case. Police say the 31-year-old was
pepper sprayed when he resisted arrest and
later died. Police say they responded to a
shots-fired call and found Page at the
scene. He fit the description of the suspect,
Violence and prayer
Outrage and grief touched Winston
Salem after nine black church members
were fatally shot by a white man in
Charleston, S.C., after the man spent at
least an hour with them at a Wednesday
night prayer service. Several churches and
organizations held vigils and programs to
speak out against gun violence and gun
laws they believe are too lenient. Several
people in the area knew some of the vic
tims or had ties to the families of the vic
Violence touched Winston-Salem State
University (WSSU) when on Nov. 1, just a
few hours after Homecoming activities
came to an end, news of a fatal shooting on
campus traveled through social media.
Another student was wounded at the
scene. A prayer vigil and memorial service
were held for student Anthony White Jr.
Jarrett Jerome Moore from Charlotte was
arrested. He had attended WSSU at some
point, WSSU officials say.
In May The Salvation Army asked that
a property it was buying be rezoned so that
it could house its family homeless shelter.
An uproar erupted in East Winston when
opponents in essence cried out "Not in My
Back Yard" and protested the move. Other
nonprofits led the protest. Opponents said
the move would bring the Cleveland
Avenue area down because of the home
less families and could lead to more vio
lence. The Salvation Army withdrew its
petition to re zone the property in July.
City officials shocked the community
when they announced in April that the ven
erable bus system in Winston-Salem will
get its first extensive overhaul in four
decades. The Winston-Salem Transit
Authority sketched out new routes and
presented them to the public over several
weeks. Many people complained about the
proposed routes, which cut off bus service
to some streets that had had the service for
decades. The Transit Authority tweeked
the routes after input from government
officials and the public. On Dec. 21 the
Transit Authority presented the final plan
to City Council, which approved it. The
plan is scheduled to be fully operational in
In January N.C. Sen. Earline Parmon
changed her career path while still a state
senator. She is director of outreach to the
newly elected congresswoman for the 12th
District, Alma Adams. The Rev. Dr. Paul
Lowe added state senator to his resume
when Democratic officials elected him to
replace Parmon. Lowe has filed to run for
his first full Senate term.
North Carolina Republicans moved the
primary elections from a date in May to
March 15 to have more political clout in
the 2016 presidential race. However, that
means everything has been moved up two
months, including registering to vote. The
last day to register to vote in the primaries
is Feb. 19.
The Republican presidential race
touched Winston-Salem in the fall when
black candidate Ben Carson visited the
area. The Ministers' Conference of
Winston-Salem and Vicinity denounced
Carson in September when he appeared in
Winston-Salem at a church after he said a
Muslim should not be president. The
Ministers' Conference spoke against rich
businessman and GOP candidate Donald
Trump over his racist comments against
African-Americans and Latinos while fel
low preachers outside of the area met with
him and praised him.
Residents who live near
Hanes/Lowrance Middle School on
Indiana Avenue were angry in March when
they found out the contamination that
caused the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County
School Board to close the school could be
affecting their properties. They wanted
answers to the dozens of questions they
have concerning the soil and air quality of
their neighborhood. The City of Winston
Salem in May told residents that it will be
expanding its scope into potential ground
water contamination in the area. It appears
the testing continues.
Meanwhile, students have been moved
to other schools in the area for the 2015-16
On the college level, El wood L.
Robinson was sworn in as the 13th chan
cellor of Winston-Salem State University
The university is seeking support for a
Connect NC bond referendum on the
March 15 primary ballot that will provide
$50 million for a new sciences building.
North Carolina's U.S. senators,
Richard Burr and Thorn Tillis, tried to stop
Loretta Lynch from being named U.S.
attorney general, but she was confirmed
anyway. Lynch, who was born in
Greensboro and grew up in Durham, was
sworn in in April. She officially became
the 83rd Attorney General of the United
States and the First African-American
woman to hold the position.
Winston-Salem residents, especially
on the east side, rejoiced when the Liberty
Street Market opened in October 2014. It
was a sad day, however, when the market
closed in late summer of this year.
Jim Shaw, former chairman of the
Liberty Community Development
Corporation (Liberty CDC, which closed
in January), told The Chronicle in
September that when Ruben Gonzalez, the
city's now retired develop
ment project supervisor,
approached him with the
idea for the market, he
thought it was going to be
good for Liberty Street.
Shaw originally believed
Liberty CDC was going to
run the market before
Mercedes Miller won a bid
for it. Shaw said he'd gotten
so many calls from vendors
at the time that he
had to turn them away. He said he was
unsure why it didn't work, but Liberty
Street is the worse off for it.
The weeklong National Black Theatre
Festival began in 1989. It's held in
Winston-Salem every two years. During
the celebration this year, a ribbon-cutting
ceremony was held at 713 South Marshall*
St. for a preview of the National Black
Theatre Hall of Fame and Museum.
Money must be raised to make it a reality.
The Hall of Fame and Museum will fea
ture exhibits on the careers of festival
founder Larry Leon Hamlin and Mabel P.
Robinson, who had a long and distin
guished career as a dancer, actor, choreog
rapher, playwright and director. A new
group of honorees will be inducted into the
hall of fame each year of the festival.
Robinson announced she is retiring
today, Dec. 31, from the daily grind of
artistic director for the North Carolina
Black Repertory Company, which pro
duces the festival.
The Winston-Salem Branch of the
National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People (NAACP) elected Isaac
"Ike" Howard as president. The first elec
tion was scheduled in November 2014, but
was postponed because the then-president
S. Wayne Patterson was concerned that the
election needed state officials to monitor
The second election was held in
January, but it was contested over what
was called irregularities.
Howard was elected in May after
Patterson dropped out of the race for re
Rk Photo by Tevin S tinson
The Mass Moral
Monday March for
voting rights began
at the Corpening
Plaza and made its
way to the federal
joined by more pro
testers on July 13.
The Chronicle (USPS 067-910) was established by Ernest
H. Pitt and Ndubisi Egemonye in 1974 and is published
every Thursday by Winston-Salem Chronicle Publishing
Co. Inc., 617 N. Liberty Street, Winston-Salem, N.C.
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