Your letters, March 23

March 21, 2014 

Readers respond to student’s arrest

Editor’s note: Last Sunday’s story by staff writer Jonathan Alexander about the arrest of NCCU student Lewis Little on assault and kidnapping charges and his subsequent release generated many online comments. Here is a sampling:

Bruce Lightner: Obviously the Durham police and district attorney kept this young man in jail without any forensic proof or any physical evidence at all other than a description of hair style and clothing given by one person. The whole Durham justice system appears to be out of sync at best, corrupt at worst. Maybe such a lawsuit will shine some light on what’s really going on over there.

Matthew Paul: Imagine the police arresting someone because the description was: white, blonde hair cut short, blue jeans. It would have NEVER happened. The Police Department definitely profiled this man, and they also don't seem to have a clue that asserting your right to counsel is NOT an admission of guilt. I hate to say this but calling the police is the LAST thing anyone should do it would seem.

Willie Gupton: Except in this case, Mr. Snipes Sr. specifically identified the victim The article states “He told police that one of the intruders was a black man with dreadlocks, wearing black shorts with a red stripe down the side. He told officers that he saw him outside in the crowd and pointed to Little.” He was not profiled by the police. He was specifically identified at the scene of the crime by the reporting victim.

Matthew Paul: Willie Gupton, the police took the easiest possible path to get a result for a case without using a smidge of critical thought. Had they been in a white neighborhood they would never have done the same thing.

Willie Gupton: Matthew Paul, we find cases like this with white suspects all the time. The Duke Lacrosse case is a perfect example in Durham. Greg Taylor is another very high profile case in North Carolina in which a man was arrested and convicted despite the evidence. ... It is more likely to happen with minority and the poor. However, discounting the countless cases involving whites creates a false narrative.

Anne-Marie Mazur: What single, tangible piece of evidence did the police have for locking him up? The word of a single person? Yes, that IS all it takes apparently, your Fourth Amendment rights no longer exist.

Loretta B DeLoggio: Did anyone read this article? Mr. Little wasn't arrested for being black or for having dreads. The article says, “He told officers that he saw him outside in the crowd and pointed to Little.” Eyewitness ID is shaky, and often wrong, but it’s not racial profiling. An officer who didn’t hold Mr. Little for questioning would have been fired!

What raise?

I’m pleased to see my local school leaders here in Durham fight back against our state’s latest “solution” to low teacher pay.

Providing a $500 raise – each year for four years – for the top 25 percent of teachers in a school district seems both insulting and arbitrary. Do we really think just one-quarter of public teachers are worthy of this, ahem, windfall?

For a teacher lucky enough to earn $40,000 a year, that $500 represents a 1.25 percent raise. That’s it. That’s just enough extra cash for teachers to buy something they shouldn’t have to: the paper, glue sticks, scissors, pencils, crayons and other teaching materials the schools themselves don’t have the money to provide adequately.

Eric Ferreri

Durham

Apply now for Arc housing

The Arc of Orange County and The Arc of North Carolina, two nonprofits that support persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities are accepting housing applications for a six-unit apartment project that is currently being constructed in the Meadowmont Community in Chapel Hill.

The project was made possible with land that was donated by East West Partners, funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Orange County HOME funds. Four one-bedroom and two two-bedroom apartments will be available early this summer.

The Arc of Orange County will accept applications through March 31. Interested parties must:

• Be at least 18 years old

• Have annual maximum income of $13,800 to $23,000

• Have a documented disability

Applications are available at: arcoforange.org

For additional information, please contact Joyce Smith, administrative assistant, at 919-942-5119. 

The Arc of Orange County was incorporated in November of 1979 as a 501©3 nonprofit organization. Entering into our 34th year of operation, The Arc of Orange County is proud of its mission to provide advocacy and services to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities that promote community involvement, active lifestyles and social value. Employing a philosophy that maximizes the use of community resources, our organization strives to enhance quality of life for each individual by determining which supports work best for them through engagement in independence optimizing activities that are based on personal preference and strengths, increase personal relationships.

Robin Baker

The Arc of Orange County

Historical callousness

By naming an East Campus dormitory after former North Carolina governor Charles Aycock, Duke University fails to adhere to its mission of contributing to the local community, disgraces historical struggles for race equality, and commemorates a legacy of white-supremacy rule.

Aycock rose to power at the close of the 19th century, determined to halt the ruling Fusion party’s political empowerment of African Americans in North Carolina. He was determined to combat this so-called “negro domination” and nominalized the 1898 Wilmington race riots that resulted in the deaths of around 60 black Americans as an insignificant and commonplace action. His political rallies were similarly blatant in their message: a Gatling gun used in the Wilmington riots embellished the roadshow.

Defenders commend Aycock’s reforms in education but ignore his endorsement of a discriminatory suffrage amendment. The amendment excluded a substantial population of illiterate blacks from voting yet exempted illiterate whites via a grandfather clause.

Aycock has had a significant impact on local history that will not be quickly forgotten. Retaining Aycock’s name is an expression of historical callousness, which disrespects the local community. However, students’ calls to rename the building indicate changing university values, and recent Duke Student Government involvement indicates further progress. This growing awareness of historical struggles will manifest in a university that is more aware of its community’s past.

Philipp Oberbeck

Durham

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