Police Arrest Civil Rights Leaders After School Board Takeover

Thomas Goldsmith and T. Keung Hui, Raleigh News & Observer, June 15, 2010

Police arrested four civil rights protesters, including state NAACP head Rev. William Barber and author Tim Tyson, after they refused to leave tonight’s Wake County school board meeting. The arrests started about an hour-and-a-half after the biracial group disrupted the meeting, speaking and singing to empty seats when the board recessed, then taking over the elective body’s own seats.

In addition to Barber and Tyson, author of the personal civil rights history “Blood Done Sign My Name,” police arrested civil rights activist Mary Williams, a gospel singer and Wake schools parent who teaches a course with Tyson, and Pullen Memorial Baptist Church minister Nancy Petty. They were taken in handcuffs to the Wake County jail where all four were charged with second degree trespassing and released on a promise to appear in court at various dates next month.

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The protest began when Margiotta called a recess of the board and Barber, state leader of the NAACP, objected.

“We’d like to finish the public comment period at this time,” Barber said. “We’ve not had an opportunity to speak.”

Margiotta offered Barber and the others a chance to speak after the recess.

“We’re going to do it now,” Barber said. “We are engaging in nonviolent resistance. We will not release the podium.”

Board members have now come back into session and the leaders are being given a chance to speak. {snip}

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As Barber, Tyson and other continued their protest, the NAACP’s North Carolina chapter issued a statement criticizing the school board’s ruling majority decision to “destroy the socio-economic diversity policy” of North Carolina’s largest school district. Signed by Barber, Tyson, Petty and others, the statement said protesters were prepared to be arrested to defend the legacy of school desegregation efforts of the past and prevent schools from being resegregated.

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