Raleigh | Durham | Chapel Hill October 21, 2020
Under external investigation, North Carolinaâ€™s Sons of Confederate Veterans are fighting an internal civil war By Charlie McGee, p. 15
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Raleigh W Durham W Chapel Hill VOL. 37 NO. 39
Good grief: Wendy Spitzer, p. 23 PHOTO BY JADE WILSON
CONTENTS NEWS 10 The #MeToo movement ripples through Raleigh. BY KATIE FERNELIUS 13 The long limbo of José Chicas. BY SARA PEQUEÑO 14 2020 endorsements corrections and clarifications. BY LEIGH TAUSS FEATURE 15 The Sons of Confederate Veterans are riven by their own civil war. BY CHARLIE MCGEE
MUSIC 22 New albums by The Mountain Goats and Rachel Kiel reviewed. BY JORDAN LAWRENCE AND SARAH EDWARDS
23 Wendy Spitzer crowd-sourced sadness for her site-specific musical work Pieces of Grief. BY MICHAELA DWYER 24 Will Phase 3 of reopening leave behind the most vulnerable music venues? BY MARY KING
CULTURE 25 New comedy The Planters is a character-driven gem. BY GLENN MCDONALD 26 Packing and Cracking plumbs the dangers of gerrymandering. BY BYRON WOODS
THE REGULARS 4 Voices
6 A Week in the Life
5 15 Minutes
9 Publisher's Note 20 PHOTOVOICE
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October 21, 2020
Our endorsement issue drummed up strong responses. But no pick was as controversial as our support of Raleigh’s $80 million housing bond, which we figured was a no-brainer considering the city hasn’t invested in a housing bond in nearly a decade, and Durham passed a $95 million bond last year.
CARMEN CAUTHEN, a shortlisted candidate to replace Saige Martin on the Raleigh City Council, shared her reasons for opposing the bond: “Doing a little bit of something is ‘better than doing nothing at all’ might be a good policy for putting a bandaid on a scratch,” Cauthen wrote on Facebook. “Raleigh’s affordable housing policies for low-income [people] are hemorrhaging nothing that helps conclusively. I believe the statement is racist and is spoken from the standpoint of someone who doesn’t care to hear all of the truth. It is as though breadcrumbs from a table full of food are better than starving while the people who sit at the table eat the steak, potato, and salad. Ms. Trauss’ knowledge of what actually occurred over the last year with the Wake County Housing Justice Coalition and what has prompted this fight are not based on the full truth, because she didn’t research the full truth. Here is part of what I wrote as a complete rebuttal to this endorsement. As we know that systemic racism must be changed by those who have the power, we also know that this requires white people to do the work. White people created the racist systems and have the votes and the funds to make the changes. During my research on housing in the city of Raleigh since slavery, I learned the truth about some things that I had thought were true. One of them was about the way the city’s [unfairly] segregated neighborhoods were developed as the city was created, from the late Dr. Wilmoth A. Carter’s book, [The Urban Negro in the South]. The city was crisscrossed with creeks and watersheds. “As a result, high hills, long ridges, and dank bottoms characterized Raleigh’s terrain. Antebellum residents, for reasons of health and aesthetics, chose the higher sites for their homes. The low-lying areas were for industrial development or lay vacant.” After the Civil War, the Freedmen who came into Raleigh settled in the areas east of East Street and south of South Street. Because of their poverty, [they] were only able to purchase the less expensive land, usually in the creek bottoms or other less desirable locations, and if they couldn’t purchase, they rented in those same areas. These are the same areas that predominantly black and brown people live in today. Feel free to read the entire article on my page. And don’t vote for the bond if you haven’t already done so. It is time to work on the systemic racist policies and not to keep putting bandaids on hemorrhaging wounds.”
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Making History Why the Wake County Board of Education election is so important BY COURTNEY NAPIER firstname.lastname@example.org
here are a plethora of events in Wake County I could write about this week. The ramming-through of the Downtown South development despite affected property that consistently sees flooding. INDY Week’s vapid and condescending endorsement of Raleigh’s Affordable (for the middle class when displacing the underclass) Housing Bond. A poll worker’s recent assault by a Republican “poll observer” and the calamitous response of the Wake County GOP. But, in my mind, the most pressing issue involves the Wake County Board of Education election. If you have moved to Wake County in the last 10 years, which data suggests a whole lot of you have, then you may not have the full story of why this race is so important. There are currently five conservative candidates looking to become the new majority on the WCBOE. While only three of the seven challengers have experience in the education sector, those that don’t have some fascinating résumés. Rachel Mills, who’s running against Chris Heagarty for District 7 (encompassing West Raleigh and Morrisville), was the press secretary for Libertarian Senator Ron Paul for four years before becoming a real estate agent. On her campaign Facebook page, there is a photo of her wearing a “Trump 2020” T-shirt. Steve Bergstrom and Gregory Hahn (running against Lindsay Mahaffery for Southern Wake’s District 8 and Monika Johnson-Holster for Southeast Wake’s District 2, respectively) are both military veterans who are enthusiastic about the Wake County Public School System’s controversial School Resource Officer program. Hahn has been especially supportive of police in schools, receiving an endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police Wake County Lodge #41. The SRO program has been under fire since its inception for instances of excessive force against students, from a child being pepper-sprayed while restrained in 2008 to a young girl being body-slammed in 2017, which was caught on video and went viral. There are also egregious disparities in how Black and white students are disciplined; WCPSS was under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education for almost a decade after the NAACP and the Southern Coalition of Social Justice filed a complaint. Karen Carter (challenging Bill Fletcher of Cary and Apex’s District 9) and Deborah Prickett (running against Heather Scott for Eastern Wake’s District 1) both have experience in education, but their platforms are vague, and their true intentions can only be known by their past decisions in leadership. While Carter doesn’t have a record to pull from, Prickett was one of the architects for the school-assignment plan that destroyed Wake County’s celebrated diversity policy. She and the rest of
the conservative challengers in the 2009 WCBOE race were all backed by Art Pope, right-wing megadonor and current chair of the UNC Board of Governors. Prickett says she believes all children should have access to good schools, but she has not committed to reinstating a diversity policy for school reassignment plans. She and her fellow challengers are also reticent about increasing the WCPSS budget, even though the ruling from the landmark Leandro case deemed a budget increase essential to creating equity in school achievement. Part of the reason Wake County’s population grew by 43.5 percent from 2000 to 2010 is that we had schools that were diverse, accomplished, and staffed by enthusiastic and well-resourced teachers. In 2009, through the efforts of conservative multi-millionaires and opportunistic community members, that legacy was trashed. Now another group of conservative challengers is seeking to do it again. Nearly every GOP candidate praises alternatives to traditional public schools, like charters, private schools, and even homeschooling. But in Wake County, school board members don’t have jurisdiction over these schools. Why spend time talking about something that you cannot contribute to through your role as a board member? As in 2009, these individuals claim to want to give a voice to “Wake County parents,” but many parents are left out. When Hahn referred to the Education Justice Alliance as an “outside group” in a recent article, he neglected to say that the EJA is comprised almost entirely of parents and caregivers of WCPSS students. These new challengers do not seek the well-being of all our students when over half of the school population are students of color. And there is a unified call to shut down the WCPSS Office of Equity Affairs. Bergstrom is especially vocal in his disdain for school lessons that include Black Lives Matter or the 1619 Project, echoing Trump’s sentiments in referring to them as “politically motivated lessons” and saying that the school board should take “a strong stand against activism in the classroom.” The lack of integrity in our history classes plays a major role in the racial strife we see today. Who would we be as a nation if we learned that George Washington’s dentures were not made of wood but teeth pulled from the mouths of the living people he owned as property? Or that the FBI sent letters to Martin Luther King Jr.’s home urging him to commit suicide? Understanding these truths might have allowed us to change the inequities that still cost our country trillions of dollars and countless lives. It has taken us 10 years to begin rebuilding what the conservative board from 2009 destroyed. We must not move backward again. 2 Voices is made possible by contributions to the INDY Press Club. Join today at KeepItINDY.com.
COURTNEY NAPIER is a Raleigh native, community activist, and co-host of the podcast Mothering on the Margins. 4
October 21, 2020
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The Pigeon-Racing Fourth Graders of Central Park School BY SARAH EDWARDS email@example.com
In January, the fourth-grade class at Durham’s Central Park School for Children hatched and began raising homing pigeons. This week, the next year of fourth-graders met the birds. They will now take over their training in the hopes of competing in North Carolina Combine’s spring pigeon races. Teacher Aaron Sebens let the INDY ask the class a few questions over Zoom.
What were your first impressions of the pigeons? Malcolm: When I got to hold one of them, it was really soft. It looked up at me like, “Uh, who’s holding me, let me go?” Ollie: When I was holding one of them, something that I didn’t know pigeons could do was it turned its head all the way to face me. It turned its head all the way around and was looking straight at me.
A fourth grader at Central Park School
PHOTO BY JEFF SEBENS
How do these birds know how to find their way home? Ollie: They have a little thing on their nose called a wattle. Some other birds have them—I think, chickens. And nobody knows exactly how they know where home is, but when they spend a bunch of time in one area (or maybe when they know where their food is), they know, like, “That’s where I want to go.” Aaron Sebens: They are very food-driven, yeah. Does anyone know what’s in their wattle so they can find their way home? Alexander: They can sense magnetic fields all over the earth.
Spooky. How many pigeons are there?
Does anyone have any favorite facts they want to share?
Selwyn: There’s six pigeons—Aaron, can I tell her the story? OK, so two days ago, one of the pigeons got attacked by a hawk, and there’s a bunch of feathers around the loft. Rider was attacked by a hawk, but he’s OK.
Eloise: In the pigeon-racing book that we read, it said that people have been using pigeons for almost three thousand years.
Lucille: Pigeons can fly 60 miles an hour.
To advertise or feature a pet for adoption, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re going to start them in February. If To advertiseAaron or Sebens: feature a pet forracing adoption, our flock is big enough, we’re going to do the North Carolina races, which is the big game. We’re going to try and get them please contact email@example.com trained up this fall so they’re ready for the spring races. W
Aaron Sebens: We didn’t know until this year, but September and October is big hawk season—there’s more around because they’re migrating through.
October 21, 2020
A WE E K IN THE L IFE
10/14 10/15 10/16
Republican poll observer GARY PENDLETON, a former Wake County commissioner, is charged with misdemeanor assault and trespassing after pushing an election worker who said he could not enter a Wake Forest voting location before it opened. North Carolina hits its HIGHEST ONE-DAY CASE COUNT of COVID-19 since the pandemic began: 2,684 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, putting the state back in the “red zone.” Saint Augustine's University President IRVING PRESSLEY MCPHAIL dies from COVID-19 complications. North Carolina eclipses over 1 MILLION VOTES since the start of mail-in voting. This means about 14 percent of registered North Carolinians have already cast their ballots.
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The first day of EARLY VOTING brings record turnout; according to the NCBE, there are 230,000 votes cast by 5:30 p.m.
The UNC TAR HEELS lose 31–28 against the FSU Seminoles. This kicks the football team out of the national top 10 rankings, bumping them from fifth place to fourteenth. Meanwhile, NC State beats Duke 31–20 and jumps into the AP's Top 25.
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A federal judge orders that ABSENTEE BALLOTS in North Carolina must be signed by a witness. GOV. ROY COOPER and LT. GOV. DAN FOREST face off in the only pre-election North Carolina gubernatorial debate.
Presidential candidate JOE BIDEN makes a campaign stop in Durham and pays a surprise visit to the Cook Out on Hillsborough Road with his granddaughter Finnegan. The gimmick is savvy—his uninspiring order (a vanilla shake and a chocolate shake), less so.
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(Here’s what’s happened since the INDY went to press last week)
Due to the recent COVID-19 case spike in the state, Cary officials call off the popular November CHINESE LANTERN FESTIVAL.
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October 21, 2020
OP - E D
Washed Out Cutting off Durham residents’ water is cruel, especially during a pandemic BY LUCIA CONSTANTINE email@example.com
t a time when people need to wash their hands to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the City of Durham is shutting off their water. In mid-September, the City announced it would resume shut-offs for nonpayment, even though the pandemic is still raging and the economic fallout deeply felt. In doing so, the City threatens public health and creates yet another burden for households that are already struggling to make ends meet. Almost five thousand water accounts in Durham were eligible for disconnection at the end of July, according to data submitted to the North Carolina Utilities Commission. Before then, residents were protected by a March executive order from Governor Roy Cooper banning water, sewer, and electricity shutoffs. The moratorium on utility disconnections ended in July, along with federal unemployment benefits. Without the moratorium, the safety and health of our residents are threatened as unemployment remains high and coronavirus cases are expected to grow through the fall and winter. Washing hands is one of the most critical preventative measures against the spread of the coronavirus. Without water, our residents cannot engage in even the most basic tasks of sanitation and survival. Shutting off water not only impacts individual households; it compromises the health of our entire community, especially our most vulnerable residents. Communities that are most vulnerable to COVID-19 are the same communities vulnerable to water shut-offs. In Durham County, Black and Latinx residents have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus, making up over 75 percent of confirmed cases. Black and Latinx residents are also more likely to have lost their jobs during the pandemic, to face housing cost burden and instability, and to
October 21, 2020
“Washing hands is one of the most critical preventative measures against the spread of the coronavirus.” have little to no savings for weathering an economic shock. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the systemic failures and inequities in our neighborhoods, our economy, and our public infrastructure that were created by structural racism and decades of disinvestment. Shutting off water is a punitive measure that increases the burdens residents already face and puts them at greater risk for contracting the coronavirus, along with our entire community. Water shutoffs preceded the pandemic, of course. Between June 2016 and June 2019, there were more than 30,000 disconnections—or about 12,100 a year—in Durham, concentrated near the center of the city and east of downtown, according to a report from the National League of Cities presented at a recent Durham City Council work session. People living in low-income areas or communities of color were more likely to experience shutoffs. Residents that had their water shut off reported feelings of diminishment, failure, and shame, along with increased levels of stress, anxiety, and hardship. They had to pawn their belongings, forgo bathing, or send their kids to school wearing the same clothes until they were able to pay. During that same period, the City collected $2.1 million in disconnection and
late fees. To its credit, the City’s Department of Water Management has a program to help residents pay past-due water bills, but it is consistently underutilized; $170,000 went unused in the past three years. That amount would not cover what residents currently owe, which is closer to $1 million, but it would help some families who are already behind. The amount residents currently owe represents only 1 percent of the total projected revenue for water and sewer services. According to the latest financial report to the City Manager, operating revenues for water and sewer services currently exceed the budget, and the fund has “consistently finished each fiscal year in a strong financial position.” Even if Durham were to lose 20 percent of its water and sewer revenue—or $20 million—due to COVID-19, one estimate shows it would still be able to cover its operations, maintenance, and debt service costs for more than eight years by using its unrestricted cash to offset losses. In addition to offering payment plans and expanding the reach of its underutilized hardship fund, the City of Durham should eliminate disconnection fees and suspend shutoffs for non-payment. Doing so is not only a compassionate response to an unprecedented emergency but also a necessary public health measure during a pandemic. Beyond these measures, Durham has an opportunity to reimagine how we might provide clean water to everyone, regardless of economic status. Access to safe and clean water shouldn’t be a commodity, especially during a pandemic and economic recession. W Lucia Constantine is an urban planner and part of a Durham neighborhood mutual aid group formed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
A NOTE FROM O U R P U B L IS H E R
fter sorting through more than 90 applicants over the last three months, I’m excited to announce that Jane Porter has agreed to be the next editor-in-chief of INDY Week. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, Jane has lived in the Triangle for 15 years and has worked in local print media for the past 10. Following three years as the editor of Raleigh Magazine, Jane is excited to return to INDY Week, where she interned and worked as a staff writer from 2012 to 2016. She begins her new role here in January 2021. I can’t thank Brian Howe enough for the work he has put in as our interim editor-in-chief during our search. He has been invaluable to the INDY over the years as our arts and culture editor, and most recently, he led the editorial department over the last four months. I’m sad to announce Brian will be leaving in November to pursue other projects, but I look forward to seeing what he creates when he has time to focus on his writing instead of managing assignments and writers. I’m thankful to staff members that have agreed to step into new roles through the beginning of January. Leigh Tauss, our Raleigh news editor, will be our interim editor-in-chief. Before coming to the INDY, Leigh spent four years as a reporter for the Record-Journal, a daily newspaper in Connecticut where she won several statewide awards for her reporting on municipal government and policing. Sarah Edwards will be our interim arts and culture editor. A North Carolina native and alumnus of UNC-Chapel Hill, Sarah worked in editorial events at The New Yorker and as a freelance culture writer for several years before joining the INDY as associate arts and culture editor in February 2018. We have also hired Eric Ginsburg as interim news editor to edit our weekly coverage. Eric previously was the managing editor at Triad City Beat, a weekly newspaper he cofounded in 2014. He is a great addition to the INDY staff, and I hope to continue working with him after Jane comes on board. Thank you for being patient as we searched for our new editor. I didn’t want to rush the process. Instead, I chose to take time to hire the person that could do the best job leading us forward, mentoring reporters, and focusing on the important issues in our community that need to be addressed. I believe Jane Porter will do a wonderful job as our new editor. If you have any questions or comments to share about this or anything related to the INDY, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Instagram Accountability The NC Protection Alliance is fighting for a safer Raleigh BY KATIE JANE FERNELIUS email@example.com
ust a day after appointing James “Carr” McLamb Jr. to the North Carolina State Board of Elections earlier this month, Governor Roy Cooper rescinded the nomination amid allegations of abuse from McLamb’s ex-girlfriend. Speaking with The News & Observer, the woman said she had called the governor’s office the week before to quietly disclose her story, but didn’t get a reply. So she decided to publish her experiences on an Instagram account aiming to provide a safe space for survivors of abuse: The NC Protection Alliance. All summer, the alliance had been sharing stories of misconduct in the restaurant, bar, and tattoo industries in Raleigh. These stories, which often named the men they accused, had prompted several businesses to fire employees, issue apologies, and, in some cases, choose to close. When Governor Cooper rescinded McLamb’s appointment, it became clear that a social media account that had begun as an informal avenue for women to share their experiences of sexual harassment in the Raleigh service industry had, in a few short months, expanded into something much bigger. The alliance wasn’t just making an impact in North Carolina’s bar and restaurant scene—it was shaping its politics, too. The NC Protection Alliance started as a way to publicize a story that its founder, Wendy, kept hearing. (Wendy and other members of the alliance requested that we use their first names only, due to the repeated harassment the account has received.) Two years ago, a close friend told Wendy that a man from her work had raped her. This man was a staple in the downtown Raleigh service industry scene. He frequently hung out at Kings—the music 10
October 21, 2020
venue upstairs from Garland, the restaurant where he was employed at the time— and floated through popular late-night dive bars like Ruby Deluxe. Wendy had heard rumors about the man. But most of them were vague and suggested what felt already evident: He was a little creepy and desperate. She avoided him on the advice of an ex-boyfriend and warned friends to do the same. Then, this summer, another friend told her that the man had raped her. Wendy realized in that moment that what had allegedly happened to her two friends could have happened to other women, too. Simply whispering warnings to each other was not an adequate way to handle the threat this man posed. So she decided to put out a call on her Instagram story, writing, “If anyone has a story about Adam Atashi, I’ll post it on my stories and cut out your name.” Nearly 20 women replied with their own experiences, according to Wendy. Five times as many reached out with stories about other local men. (Atashi, who no longer works at Garland, was not able to be reached for comment. Garland co-owner Cheetie Kumar said that she was unaware of any allegations against Atashi at that time and regrets that she ever employed him.) “All of these stories were about a very specific network of people in central downtown Raleigh,” Wendy says. She noted that celebrity restaurateurs and bartenders were coming under fire after years of accolades. “The pandemic made it possible, in some ways, for people to begin speaking out.” This summer, many service industry employees found themselves out of work as public health restrictions prompted bars and restaurants to close down. Amid this forced industry hibernation,
conversations that had been bubbling beneath the surface for years boiled over on social media. Allegations of racism had recently come out against the owners of Bida Manda and Brewery Bhavana, followed by allegations of sexual harassment and assault against their bar manager, Jordan Hester. These conversations weren’t just happening in Raleigh. Local service-industry stakeholders were reckoning with similar allegations in Greensboro, too. Wendy was in touch with a woman there, and they discussed the need for these conversations to go beyond their own social circles and find a more communal, digital place to live. So they created Instagram pages for their respective cities that shared the same name: NC Safety Alliance. Other cities across North Carolina soon followed their lead— Charlotte, Asheville, and Durham, among others—and began publicizing stories about known abusers and harassers in their town. So far, though, arguably none of these pages has made a bigger impact than the Raleigh chapter. Absent other avenues for accountability, social media has become a popular platform for survivors looking to share their stories of sexual harassment and assault. In 2017, women posted about their own experiences on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using the hashtag #MeToo. This year, in Egypt, a woman’s anonymous Instagram post detailing accusations against a rich and influential young man on her university campus ballooned into what some are calling the country’s own #MeToo moment. In 2015, social media fervor surrounding the story of a woman in Turkey who was killed after trying to stop a man from raping her escalated into street protests. Survivors of sexual assault, largely women, can find support on these platforms that can be difficult to locate otherwise. Filing a police report or testifying in court can put women in a position where their experience is interrogated, potentially re-traumatizing them.
Even outside the criminal justice system, the social cost of accusing someone of sexual harassment or assault can be huge, especially in a tight-knit scene where the lines between work and social life are blurred. Janelle, another member of the Protection Alliance, dated someone who she says was popular in the downtown Raleigh scene. She says that after they broke up, she told some mutual friends that he had assaulted her, but they didn’t believe her. After she decided to post her story, multiple women responded with stories of their own. “When other women came forward and said they had had the same experience with him, it was so validating,” Janelle says. “Obviously, you never want anyone to go through what you went through, but I felt like what had happened to me was real.”
“All summer, the NC Protection Alliance had been sharing stories of misconduct in the restaurant, bar, and tattoo industries in Raleigh. ” After that experience, Janelle asked to join the Protection Alliance team. She has been working with them ever since. The alliance has created a Google form for survivors who want to submit their stories. The form asks them to share their experience and their preferences regarding its publication, such as whether they want comments to be disabled on the post. At the end, whoever is submitting the story checks a box to certify that what they have shared is true to the best of their knowledge. “We have a process for accepting stories and we have a process for following up on stories,” says Lauren, who helps Wendy and Janelle run the account. “It’s a multitiered process where Wendy will read it, then another person will read it. If there is any sort of question, or it doesn’t make sense, then we’ll get in touch with the survivor to follow-up.”
Typical posts from the Raleigh account include trigger and content warnings, then slides with text from the survivor’s story. Each post is captioned with the name of the accused, if provided. If comments are turned on for the post, the alliance actively moderates them. Early on, every page developed its own style for sharing these stories. The Greensboro account preferred to tag the accused harassers and assaulters, as well as people close to them. They included photos of the accused, too. In contrast, the posts by the Raleigh chapter functioned less like pillories for public humiliation and more like curated conversations. People comment and offer support for survivors, share their own experiences, and sometimes ask questions. “We are trying to be very careful about protecting survivors and making sure each post is free from harassment and bullying,” Lauren says. But the alliance has also come up against its fair share of obstacles. It has been hard to keep a consistent group of individuals working to moderate the account. Submissions can be difficult to read, and the comments they receive can be dismissive, abusive, and mean. For instance, in September, the
Raleigh account posted a story about a popular tattoo artist. Wendy estimates they got about 7,000 new followers after that post. But they also got a huge influx of harassment. “Lots of trolls and other people tell us that we are trying to destroy people’s lives,” Janelle says. “What we want them to understand is we’re not. We’re helping survivors. Whatever happens because these stories come out happens. But we’re just focusing on the survivors.” Even if they work to moderate comments, they still receive hundreds of DMs, many of them harassing the account from burner accounts. Men and women who know the accused often write them to complain, but they also receive criticisms from people with no connection to the stories. “I love answering criticisms,” Lauren says. “Ten percent are genuine criticisms, while ninety percent are trolls. But even with the trolls, I can recognize real criticisms with their responses. Sometimes in answering them, there can be a productive conversation.” After receiving a cease-and-desist letter from one of the men who was accused, Wendy and other members of the alliance met with a lawyer, who advised them to
start an LLC to protect themselves from legal liability. By forming an LLC, they would also be able to collect and distribute money to survivors to connect them with resources like legal representation, crisis counseling, long-term mental healthcare, or mediation. They asked the chapters in other cities if they were interested in joining, and all but two—Greensboro and Winston-Salem— said yes. Now an LLC, the group would henceforth be known as the NC Protection Alliance. Soon after, a mock account appeared on Instagram with the same logo and a similar handle. It claimed to be trying to hold the Raleigh chapter accountable and posted accusations against the owner of a local bakery who, the mock account alleged, had provided free bread for a Raleigh chapter event. The account was quickly shut down. “What was so refreshing for me to see was when we were feeling overwhelmed and responding to all of this, the community started to respond in support of us,” Lauren says. “We really trust the community, and a lot of people really validated our work and how we were doing it.” When the story came in from a survivor who alleged that the newly appointed
McLamb had abused her, Wendy was initially nervous. But Lauren reassured her that this was no different than other stories they received. So they decided to publish the story. In the post, the ex-girlfriend says that McLamb pressured her into sex, filmed their sexual encounters without her consent, and once held her against a wall and screamed at her. The next day, Governor Cooper rescinded the appointment. “This is why I started this,” Wendy says. “For real change to happen.” Inspirational stories about women sharing their experiences of sexual assault often stop with the act of sharing, as though the sharing itself were a bow that ties the story together and resolves the trauma. While speaking out does not provide automatic closure, the story of the Protection Alliance does show that it can provide opportunities for healing, justice, and—ultimately—deep community. “We’re still limited to North Carolina and Raleigh, which makes this feel like a real community conversation,” Wendy says. “This stuff used to only be discussed in small conversations between two, three people—close friends. Now we’re talking about it openly.” W
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PHOTO BY JADE WILSON
Stalled Sanctuary As Election Day looms, José Chicas feels like he’s in limbo BY SARA PEQUEÑO firstname.lastname@example.org
n a normal week, José Chicas preaches from the altar of Iglesia Evangélica in Raleigh. Today, his sermon echoes in a parking lot in Durham. His words in Spanish punctuate the autumnal Friday afternoon, commanding attention even from the English speakers in the crowd. Nineteen people stand before him; his wife, Sandra Marquina, stands to the side, eyes closed, palms open to the sky. “The United States is a nation that has been so blessed by God, but this nation has been hurt by the evil of those who govern it,” Chicas says. In front of the group is the School for Conversion, a one-story yellow-green house with tomato plants in a backyard garden. For nearly all of Donald Trump’s presidency, Chicas has taken refuge inside the converted parish building.
He could preach like this on a Sunday morning, but he must stay in Durham. If he takes a step from the school property to the sidewalk, he could be arrested and deported. Chicas has lived inside the school since June 27, 2017; on the day of this article’s publication, he will have lived there for three years, three months, and 23 days. After more than one thousand days of isolation, he says his chance of returning home to his family in Raleigh is riding on Election Day. If Joe Biden gets elected, he waits until January 20. If Donald Trump gets re-elected, he could be sent back to El Salvador and wait, isolated from his wife and children, until at least 2030. In 2017, Trump began the process of ending protections for asylum-seekers from El Salvador and several other countries. Although the decision was challenged in court, it was upheld by the U.S. Court of
Appeals on September 14. While the U.S. says the civil unrest in the country is over, Marquina and Chicas believe the country is still volatile. Deportees may face an extra degree of danger: The Guardian reported in February that at least 200 deportees had been killed or assaulted after returning to El Salvador, where gang violence makes it feel like a warzone. The purpose of the Friday prayer vigil was to honor Chicas, Eliseo Jimenez, and Juana Luz Tobar Ortega, also known as the NC Sanctuary Three. All three have lived in churches for over a year. Many people in their situation thought they’d only be there a few months, and some of them were right: Minerva Cisneros Garcia was allowed to go free after living in a Greensboro church with her children for four months. Rosa del Carmen Ortez-Cruz left a Chapel Hill church for the first time in two years this August. Samuel Oliver Bruno, who spent 11 months at a Durham church, was arrested by undercover I.C.E. agents and forced back to Mexico in 2019. “I love my country, but I don’t want to live over there,” Chicas says. “I love the United States; I love North Carolina. I want to go to my country one month or three weeks and come back.” Chicas’s mother originally wanted him to go to the United States. As a teen in 1980s El Salvador, he had two options: join the military dictatorship’s right-wing armed forces, or become part of Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, a leftist guerilla group. The Central American country was at the height of its civil war when Chicas fled to Texas in 1985. When he arrived, he was stopped by immigration officials. He was released but never showed up for his immigration court hearing. In 1988, he moved to North Carolina for work. Here, he met his wife. The couple has four children; the youngest, Ezequiel, is the only one still at home. Mass I.C.E. arrests began in February 2017, shortly after Donald Trump took office. At that point, Chicas had a U.S. work permit and his own social security number. He paid taxes. He went to North Carolina’s I.C.E. office every year to check in with immigration officials. He also had a criminal record from the 1990s, when he was drinking heavily: one DUI charge and one report of domestic abuse (Marquina says he was never charged). He says his
actions and attitudes changed when he became a devout Christian in 2002. He became the preacher of a small church. That didn’t matter to I.C.E. agents. In early June, Chicas was told that he needed to leave, or face deportation back to El Salvador, a country he hadn’t been to in more than 30 years. The day before his order was up, he moved into the school. It was the day before Ezequiel’s 5th-grade graduation. Things have been difficult from the jump. The house, a converted parish, has old appliances and bibles spread throughout. It’s homier than the other sanctuary setups, but it’s not home. Chicas mentioned feeling lonely in two INDY articles, written in the days and months after his 2017 move. By 2019, he told an INDY reporter he felt like he was in jail. “I pray to God to help me continue this process,” he said at the time. “I don’t feel like I have freedom.” Like the rest of the country, the coronavirus pandemic amplified Chicas’s already-stressful situation. Before, he had small interactions to count on: Wednesday-night dinners with members of his church, or community members dropping off hot meals. Now, they leave the food on the porch. His family has struggled financially, too; Marquina, a housekeeper at NC State, is currently on partial furlough and working only three days a week. The new normal, however, did provide one benefit: Thanks to the shift to online learning, Chicas can spend more time with his 14-year-old son. If Trump gets re-elected, Chicas still plans to leave sanctuary—either to go back home to Raleigh or to return to El Salvador and wait. Ezequiel has mentioned wanting to go with him. His wife says she would prefer to stay here for her own safety and to send money back to El Salvador. As Chicas continues his speech, rays of light break through the clouds and shine down onto the asphalt. It’s the first time the sun has come out all day. “The government is only thinking of doing evil things: making weapons, making bombs, making missiles to kill others, separating families, and tearing families apart,” Chicas said. “But there is still time for us to love one another, and for us to pray to God for a change to come to this nation.” W INDYweek.com
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Election Clarifications Chris Dillon and Terence Priester respond BY LEIGH TAUSS email@example.com
A GOOD MOUTH GUARD NOT ONLY CAN SAVE YOUR SMILE; IT CAN ALSO SAVE
TING TODAY. [217 W. MILLBROOK RD., 919-787-9894]
October 21, 2020
Visit us at www.drjodifoy.com
n our endorsement of Democrat Gray Styers for Court of Appeals judge, we misstated that his opponent, Republican Chris Dillon, had written a 2018 opinion upholding the Voter ID law. This isn’t accurate: Dillon’s opinion, on behalf of the 2–1 Republican majority on the bench that upheld the controversial bill, was in 2020. We stand by our characterization that this law leads to voter suppression, as courts have previously ruled that such requirements “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” Still, Dillon took issue with our writeup. We offered him the space to respond: “I understand you can endorse whomever you think is best for the progressive cause. But I was disappointed in the factual error about some 2018 opinion I wrote favoring voter ID. I strive to approach my role as a judge in a non-partisan way, being one of a handful of judges still here who initially won a seat in a non-partisan election. I am endorsed by both sides of the aisle and the courtroom … by Democrat and Republican retired judges and by the Advocates for Justice and the Association of Defense Attorneys. In fact, I have voted three times to declare unconstitutional laws enacted by the GOP majority. “Regarding my 2020 opinion, the issue was not about voter ID per se, as it had no effect on the stay our Court placed on the implementation of that law. Rather, the opinion only dealt with whether the 2018 General Assembly could continue acting as our legislative branch, and whether to pass a budget or submit amendments for the people’s consideration, something the federal courts even recognized it could do. I would have ruled the same way had the amendment at issue had been progressive in nature.”
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SUBJECT
We were also contacted by the Terence Priester campaign after the endorsements were released. The campaign stated: “Candidate Terence Priester is a pastor, and he believes that all people should have access to clean natural resources, regardless of what they choose to believe or practice. He has never made a statement regarding the LGBTQ community.” It is accurate Priester did not make a statement to the INDY regarding the LGBTQ community. We made our judgment that he is “anti-LGBTQ” based on the statement on the “Our Beliefs” page of a church where he is listed as the founder and senior pastor. W
Under external investigation, North Carolina’s Sons of Confederate Veterans are fighting an internal civil war By Charlie McGee firstname.lastname@example.org
LB3 J 703
n March 2019, Bill Starnes emailed his neo-Confederate colleagues to discuss what he saw as a need for more political influence in their movement. Thanks to law enforcement, “it is not likely our current struggle will require the use of weapons to any high degree,” wrote Starnes, a lead officer and de facto enforcer for the North Carolina division of Sons of Confederate Veterans Inc. Instead, Starnes urged his membership to take steps toward greater political involvement, including one they could take immediately: Give more money to the NC Heritage PAC, a pro-Republican fundraising outfit that he and other N.C. SCV leaders had been running for years. “We have men there,” Starnes wrote. “We can immediately provide them with funds to get the right folks in office.” Less than a year after Starnes sent that email, the State Board of Elections opened an investigation into the political action committee. A coup-minded crusade of current and former N.C. SCV members exposed the operation from within, intensifying a schism in the group that has taken an increasingly public face ever since. Now, Board of Elections Investigator Matthew Martucci has what one neo-Confederate describes as “a thickass file” in an ongoing investigation that’s scrutinizing the N.C. SCV for running the Heritage PAC in violation of its own tax-exempt status, and funding it through a separate illegal scheme for years, according to multiple people familiar with the matter, including the PAC’s co-treasurer and a dissenting SCV member who is assisting the investigation. Martucci declined to comment. Since its inception in early 2016, the Heritage PAC has allowed the neo-Confederate group to raise money from its underlings, shuffle it to supportive Republicans under a different name, and avoid paying taxes on the effort by exploiting nonprofit law. The Heritage PAC has given at least $28,500 to various Republican campaign committees since it launched, including $3,500 to Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler—who has for years ensured a booth for the N.C. SCV at the Raleigh State Fair—and $2,500 to both INDYweek.com
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House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger. Experts who’ve analyzed reporting gathered by the INDY, including a former North Carolina assistant attorney general, say some N.C. SCV officers appear to have committed multiple misdemeanors and at least one felony in their PAC activity. Those charges could be recommended by Martucci’s investigation, though additional approval within the Board of Elections is required for indictments. On July 22, the Heritage PAC went inactive: not dead, just dormant. It hasn’t made any campaign contributions in 2020, despite this being a major election year in local and state races. But it incurred one expense of note: $5,000 in “attorney fees” paid on February 18 to Brian LiVecchi, a litigation attorney with Cumalander Adcock LLP. LiVecchi couldn’t be reached for comment.
“NOT DOING THIS FOR SHITS AND GIGGLES” he neo-Confederate group’s leaders received certification to run the Heritage PAC from the Board of Elections in February 2016. Their initial filing before that certification described the PAC’s political purpose as “supporting candidates who support North Carolina’s heritage” and named the N.C. SCV as its “connected organization.” But that’s a fundamental problem; the N.C. SCV has always been forbidden from running a PAC. That’s because, for more than a decade, the neo-Confederate group has enjoyed a 501(c)(3) status with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Broadly speaking, the IRS grants this status to organizations that exist only for “charitable purposes.” The perks include not having to pay federal, local, or property taxes. But for these privileges, 501(c)(3)s are, among other things, “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in” political campaigns, according to the IRS website. The Board of Elections flirted with this issue in an early audit of more than $1,700 the Heritage PAC took from the N.C. SCV, but it later green-lit the money after the N.C. SCV sent a letter saying the contributions complied with state law. This green light was incorrect, say experts who’ve assessed the case, including John Wallace, former Assistant Attorney General in the N.C. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “What was omitted from all of that discussion, and what is absolutely inherent in the proper resolution of the issue, is that if you are a 501(c)(3), you are absolutely prohibited from intervening in political campaigns,” Wallace says. The Heritage PAC took a new funding approach that dodged any mention of the N.C. SCV in its future disclosures: gathering mass donations from within the statewide SCV chapter, getting hundreds of mostly-unwitting members to claim slices of the money, and pumping each slice into the Heritage PAC as an individual contribution, disconnected from the SCV. The strategy is akin to one faucet pumping a single stream of water into, say, 150 different filters that all lead into the same cup. In this case, the faucet water is the N.C. SCV’s money, the filters are N.C. SCV members 16
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Kevin Stone at a Sons of Confederate Veterans Rally in 2017 CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
laundering the money, and the all-encompassing cup beneath them is the Heritage PAC. This kind of tactic has a name in campaign finance circles: “Contributions in the name of another.” Wallace says it’s a Class II misdemeanor. “A statement made under oath, such as that made by a treasurer ‘knowing the information to be untrue,’ is guilty of a Class I felony,” Wallace adds. In an August 2017 email exchange, three N.C. SCV members taking credit for contributions asked the Heritage PAC’s co-treasurer, Mitchell Flinchum, what they were supposed to do with a “form” that “Bill said I needed to fill out.” Flinchum, an N.C. SCV member in Burlington, offered to share the form in question with them, and eventually took one member’s information to help finish the process for them. Flinchum’s role in the scheme here, Wallace says, is “in the nature of perjury,” because as a PAC treasurer, he’s responsible for honestly reporting financials to the state. The Board of Elections investigation touched off after a January 22 complaint from veteran campaign finance watchdog Bob Hall, which reaffirmed a prior report by The Daily Tar Heel and called for “a comprehensive investigation and appropriate enforcement action.” Members facing scrutiny from the investigation brought in an attorney early this year, Flinchum told the INDY. He declined to give further specifics. The Martucci-led inquiry won’t issue findings until at least after the 2020 general election, according to the neo-Confederate assisting the investigation. It isn’t uncommon for complaints to pile up at the under-resourced N.C.
Board of Elections; Hall says some complaints he filed years ago are still in the board’s investigatory pipeline. Regardless of timeframe, the N.C. SCV member assisting the inquiry says he’s helped at least 10 other members share evidence with investigators. “Sounds like to us, they’re not doing this for shits and giggles,” said Don Angel, a 43-year-old Newton resident who helped catalyze an ongoing power struggle within the N.C. SCV. Angel is not engaging with the investigation, but he is part of a cadre of former and current members aiming to oust current commander Kevin Stone, a power player in the neo-Confederate world. In addition to leading the state’s Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter, Stone is the co-founder and national leader of the Mechanized Cavalry, a motorcycle-riding spinoff of the broader SCV. He also recently took over the national organization’s “Army of Northern Virginia,” which represents SCV members in Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, and South Carolina. In his day job, Stone is a probation officer in Chatham County for North Carolina’s Department of Public Safety. His trusted circle includes Starnes and Boyd Cathey, a former state archivist who co-chaired televangelist Pat Robertson’s 1988 presidential campaign and, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “became a key player in the multi-year attempt by racist extremists to assume control of the Sons of Confederate Veterans” in the early 2000s. The three men have declined or not responded to requests for comment. Some N.C. SCV members told INDY Week they didn’t realize that claiming contributions for the Heritage PAC was dubious because it was presented to them as a standard fundraising effort. Member Chadwick Rogers says that on two occasions, he was given $200 by Starnes, the N.C. SCV legislative officer, and told to give it to Stone as a donation to the Heritage PAC. “When I started asking questions about the form they asked me to fill out,” Rogers says, “he never asked me again.”
“A STALWART FRIEND” s buzz grew about his bid to become our state’s next governor, Dan Forest received two checks that were either too dirty to keep or that he simply never got the chance to cash. Forest, who’s been North Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor for nearly eight years, wasn’t a stranger to the Sons of Confederate Veterans. At least, he wasn’t by October 22, 2018, the second time the Heritage PAC reported a $1,500 contribution to his campaign, only to walk it back months later. More than two months prior, Forest stood chatting with a former treasurer of the neo-Confederate organization, Gerald Wilson, on the stage floor of a soon-to-be-energized arena in the coastal plains of southeastern North Carolina. Each man—Forest sporting a casual jeans-blazer combo, Wilson donning a more formal red tie with a double Styrofoam cup in-hand—firmed an arm behind the other’s back and smiled for a photo. Preparations continued around them in the lead-up to a campaign rally for state House Representative Jimmy Dixon, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.
It’s unclear what brought Forest and Wilson together on the arena floor that night, or if this was their first encounter. But nearly three years into the N.C. SCV leaders’ pursuit of political influence, a personal connection with Forest—who has long supported Confederate monuments and opposed what he dubbed “communist agitators” tearing them down—would prove to be fruitful. It’s no surprise they’d already sought to fluff Forest’s campaign coffers. Forest’s campaign, however, either never received the PAC’s checks or realized they were too risky to accept. The Heritage PAC’s disclosures list two $1,500 donations it sent Forest in 2018—one in April, then a second in October—but it voided both contributions months after the fact. Andrew Dunn, a spokesperson for Forest’s 2020 campaign, declined a request for an interview with the lieutenant governor on the topic, saying in an email that Forest “believes our society focuses too much time and attention on issues that divide.” N.C. SCV members who formed the PAC also declined to comment or didn’t respond to the INDY. The checks were small fries relative to Forest’s overall donor haul as he prepared for this year’s showdown for governor. But
Confederate Memorials are coming down all over our state while our so-called leaders surrender them to the radical left.
their failure to land are two hiccups in a line of question marks and outright red flags demonstrated by the Heritage PAC, and missed by campaign finance regulators, for years. The Heritage PAC’s disclosures consistently show money coming in from members of the N.C. SCV and Mechanized Cavalry. Membership statuses have been confirmed through other members, a list of Mechanized Cavalry members in North Carolina, and an internal spreadsheet listing nearly 58,000 active and inactive SCV members throughout the world as of some point in 2016. The time frame was estimated in an analysis of the spreadsheet’s
metadata with Elon University computer science professor and data-mining expert Megan Squire and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Howard Graves. The first time the Heritage PAC put its money in play hit close to home. It sent $1,000 in April 2016 to the campaign of then-state House Representative Gary Pendleton, an inactive N.C. SCV member at the time. The membership spreadsheet includes Pendleton’s name, middle initial, and address, and attributes him to an SCV chapter that covers much of the Triangle region. It lists him as inactive, which often means a member hasn’t paid their annual SCV dues.
Pendleton told the INDY he has never been a member of the SCV and wasn’t aware of any Heritage PAC contributions. But multiple neo-Confederates confirmed they know he’s been a member. A November 2016 blog post by the Heritage PAC lists Pendleton among its endorsements, referring to him as “a stalwart friend of North Carolina’s rich heritage.” In a post about nine months earlier, the PAC thanked Pendleton for leading a charge “at the request of” the N.C. SCV to continue flying the Confederate flag atop the State Capitol in Raleigh three days a year. Despite the boost from his Confederate brethren, Pendelton lost his 2016 election to now-incumbent Democrat Cynthia Ball. Disgruntled N.C. SCV members who sparked the Board of Elections investigation also helped thwart a backdoor deal that Stone’s circle struck in November 2019 with the University of North Carolina System’s Board of Governors. The deal temporarily gave the N.C. SCV a $2.5 million trust of university money—and Silent Sam. The dissenters believe the Confederate statue belongs atop its original pedestal on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus and were offended by their leadership accepting any alternative. Their internal effort “to
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upset the command structure,” as Angel puts it, has been bolstered amid protests in the months since George Floyd’s deathby-police in Minneapolis. “Confederate Memorials are coming down all over our state while our so-called leaders surrender them to the radical left,” Paul Burr, a former N.C. SCV camp leader, wrote in a July email to members. But some who remain loyal to Stone’s incumbent team have taken their own action in the name of “memorial defense.”
“AN AGITATOR, IF NOT A TERRORIST” n the morning of May 31, Jeffrey Alan Long, a 49-yearold Kernersville resident, got the same email hundreds of others received from their embattled commander. Many of them hadn’t heard from Stone in months. His message—sent to N.C. SCV and Mechanized Cavalry members with the subject line, “Monuments under attack”—noted that racial-justice protests after “the arrestee’s death in Minneapolis” showed no sign of ending soon. “Our intelligence,” Stone ambiguously claimed, showed “domestic terrorist groups including Antifa and BLM and communist groups” were coordinating unrest with a secret goal: to “tear down our memorials.” Stone urged his underlings to conduct vigilant “Memorial patrols and networking with local law enforcement and government bodies.” He reminded them to “remain safe and follow the law while completing this mission.” Around 10 hours after Stone sent that email, Long, a member of both the N.C. SCV and Mechanized Cavalry, was arrested on two misdemeanor counts, and later charged with a felony of inciting a riot for twice shooting one of two guns on his person into the air during a peaceful protest in Salisbury. Long declined to comment. Witnesses say he fired his gun just a short distance from protesters who’d gathered around the town’s “Fame” Confederate monument. Gemale Black, president of the Salisbury-Rowan NAACP, helped coordinate the protest in Salisbury that day. He said he was monitoring the crowd from its periphery around the Confederate monument when Long first approached, around an hour before his arrest. As Black describes it, Long pointed at him and other bystanders, telling each that he would kill them until the crowd prompted police to direct Long out of the area. The “agita18
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Dedication of Silent Sam at UNC-Chapel Hill
tor” returned an hour or so later, at which time, Black alleges, Long threw a “bottle of water dead into my face.” When bystanders tried to push Long out of the area, Black said the rogue N.C. SCV member moved a short distance away, fired his gun twice, and walked away from the scene. “I would definitely call him an agitator, if not a terrorist,” Black said. Salisbury police arrested Long on a street near the Confederate monument’s now-former standing place at around 7 p.m., according to his arrest report. City officials voted unanimously to move the Fame monument in the name of public safety just weeks later, according to the Salisbury Post. Separate from Long, other N.C. SCV members have taken to their own forms of antagonism. Burlington resident James Conrad Smithson, a member of the N.C. SCV and Mechanized Cavalry, has used Facebook to share memes about shooting protesters, including a plea that “PRESIDENT TRUMP SHOULD ISSUE A SHOOT ON SITE ORDER” against “BLM and ANTIFA.” In one post, Smithson gleefully linked an article about potential protections for drivers who hit protesters with their cars. “Quit dont git hit!!! Pants up don’t loot!!!,” he wrote. Smithson received the N.C. SCV’s inaugural “Hold the Line Award” earlier this year for being “very instrumental in conducting operations in Pittsboro.” He is separately a member of the League of the South, a group that the Library of Congress describes as “a Southern Nationalist organization whose ultimate goal is a free and independent Southern republic.” The Southern Pover-
PHOTO COURTESY OF UNC ARCHIVES
ty Law Center has designated it a white nationalist hate group. Flinchum, the Heritage PAC co-treasurer, is also a member of the League of the South. He denied the affiliation when recently asked, but has said the opposite in past publications, including a 2012 email now archived on southernheritage411.com saying, “I’ve been proud to be a member of the League of the South as long as I have been in the SCV.” The N.C. SCV likely has more than 70 members who are jointly in the League of the South, according to an analysis by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch of spreadsheets from sources claiming to be in each group. Cross-referencing them shows 73 individuals who were members of both groups at some time between 2013 and 2016. Some dissenting members describe a recent trend of “sketchy guys,” as one member put it, joining the Mechanized Cavalry. Starnes, the former Mechanized Cavalry leader in North Carolina, may have sparked the N.C. SCV’s splinter with an alleged threat to shoot a member on Aug. 3, 2019, during an annual meeting. Three members who say they witnessed the event and others speaking from hearsay repeat the same account: Starnes stood up as Paul Burr—who was pushed out of the SCV after the incident—was openly criticizing Stone’s leadership, and began pulling his gun from his holster until bystanders stopped and led him out of the room. One camp leader cited the incident in a resignation email he sent about a year later, saying “That day I saw our Division Commander and General of the
Mechanized Cavalry throw all principle out the window.” In December, Starnes claimed this account is a lie, created and spread by a small group of members seeking to smear him and the group’s leadership. Another internal pressure point: the feeling of being on the low-end of “a Ponzi scheme,” as Angel describes it. In March, the Mechanized Cavalry donated $15,000 to a “National Confederate Museum” that the national SCV has planned on building since 2008 near Columbia, Tennessee. Paul Gramling, the national SCV’s former commander-in-chief, asked all members in the U.S. on March 28 to donate at least 20 percent of their $1,200 federal stimulus check to the museum. “God don’t want but 10 percent,” said Smitty Smith, a 68-year-old dissenting member in Newton. “I mean, that’s begging,” Hundreds of members have paid a one-time $100 fee over the years, separate from their annual N.C. SCV dues, to join the Mechanized Cavalry, according to multiple members and an internal roster that names more than 500 active and inactive members of the motorcycle group in North Carolina as of early 2020. They’ve been told to pay only with cash or check made out directly to Starnes. It appears highly unlikely that the group has reported all of this income in recent-year tax filings with the IRS. “As far as I know, and being #53 in the Mech Cav and #16 here in NC, I know pretty far back, we have never had a bank account. We tend to have the cigar box in the gun safe approach,” Starnes said in an April 2019 email to members. Smith says over the last month, Stone’s leadership team has suspended and kicked out high-ranking members who ask questions about the state Board of Elections investigation or the group’s financial records—“or anybody that doesn’t just do what they say.” The N.C. SCV’s dissenters say they aren’t looking to destroy the neo-Confederate group. They want to refocus it on a battle over historical memory that’s existed since as early as 1866. But with about a dozen members cooperating with the ongoing investigation and any potential charges still pending, the group’s future is uncertain. Still, Smith’s outlook is bullish. “We’re in this to get rid of all of the corrupt people and make it a good organization, where people could join and be shown respect, and asked what their opinions are on stuff,” Smith said. “You don’t know what else is coming either. There’s a lot more coming.” W
2020 General Election INDY WEEK ENDORSEMENTS S TAT E & F E D E R A L President: Joseph R. Biden (D) U.S. Senate: Cal Cunningham (D) U.S. House District 2: Deborah K. Ross (D) U.S. House District 4: David E. Price (D) Governor: Roy Cooper (D) Lieutenant Governor: Yvonne Lewis Holley (D) Attorney General: Josh Stein (D) N.C. Auditor: Beth A. Wood (D) Commissioner of Agriculture: Jenna Wadsworth (D) Commissioner of Insurance: Wayne Goodwin (D) Commissioner of Labor: Jessica Holmes (D) Secretary of State: Elaine Marshall (D) Superintendent of Public Instruction: Jen Mangrum (D) N.C. Treasurer: Ronnie Chatterji (D) N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Seat 1: Cheri Beasley (D) N.C. Supreme Court Associate Justice Seat 2: Lucy Inman (D) N.C. Supreme Court Associate Justice Seat 4: Mark Davis (D) N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Seat 4: Tricia Shields (D) N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Seat 5: Lora Christine Cubbage (D) N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Seat 6: Gray Styers (D) N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Seat 7: Reuben F. Young (D) N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Seat 13: Chris Brook (D)
WA K E C O U N T Y
W A K E C O U N T Y (cont.)
State Senate District 14: Dan Blue (D)
Board of Education District 1: Heather Scott
State Senate District 20: Natalie Murdock (D)
State Senate District 15: Jay J. Chaudhuri (D)
Board of Education District 2: Monika Johnson-Hostler
State Senate District 22: Mike Woodard (D)
State Senate District 16: Wiley Nickel (D)
Board of Education District 7: Chris Heagarty
State House District 29: Vernetta Alston (D)
State Senate District 17: Sam Searcy (D)
Board of Education District 8: Lindsay Mahaffey
State House District 30: Marcia Morey (D)
State Senate District 18: Sarah Crawford (D)
Board of Education District 9: Bill Fletcher
State House District 31: Zack Ford-Hawkins (D)
State House District 11: Allison Dahle (D)
Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor: Jean-Luc Duvall
State House District 54: Robert T. Reives II (D)
State House District 33: Rosa U. Gill (D) State House District 34: Grier Martin (D) State House District 35: Terence Everitt (D) State House District 36: Julie von Haefen (D) State House District 37: Sydney Batch (D) State House District 38: Abe Jones (D) State House District 39: Darren Jackson (D) State House District 40: Joe John (D) State House District 41: Gale Adcock (D) State House District 49: Cynthia Ball (D)
Durham County Commissioners: Nida Allam (D)
Durham County Commissioners: Nimasheena Burns (D) Durham County Commissioners: Heidi Carter (D)
State Senate District 23: Valerie P. Foushee (D)
Durham County Commissioners: Brenda Howerton (D)
State House District 50: Graig Meyer (D)
Durham County Commissioners: Wendy Jacobs (D)
State House District 56: Verla Insko (D) District Court Judge, 15B Seat 03: Hathaway Pendergrass (D) Orange County Commissioners At-Large: Amy Fowler (D)
Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor: Anjali Boyd
Orange County Commissioners District 1: Mark Dorosin (D) Orange County Commissioners District 1: Jean Hamilton (D)
District Court Judge 10F Seat 2: Tim Gunther (D) Wake County Commissioners District 1: Sig Hutchinson (D) Wake County Commissioners District 3: Maria Cervania (D) Wake County Commissioners District 6: Shinica Thomas (D) Wake County Commissioners District 7: Vickie Adamson (D) Register of Deeds: Tammy L. Brunner (D)
Early voting is now through Saturday, October 31 Election Day is Tuesday, November 3
October 21, 2020
October 21, 2020
The José Chicas Saga WORDS + PHOTOGRAPHY BY JADE WILSON
José Chicas has been in sanctuary from ICE at the School for Conversion in Durham since 2017. On Friday, October 16 at Saint John’s Missionary Baptist Church of Durham, there was a socially distant prayer vigil for him and two other men in sanctuary (see story, p. 13). W
October 21, 2020
M U SIC
Nightmares and Dreamscapes New albums by The Mountain Goats and Rachel Kiel reach new heights BY JORDAN LAWRENCE AND SARAH EDWARDS email@example.com
THE MOUNTAIN GOATS: GETTING INTO KNIVES
HHHH 1/2 [Merge; Oct. 23]
ohn Darnielle has been upping the musical ante for a while now. Since the early 1990s, the Durham-based singer-songwriter and his Mountain Goats have grown from making crackling boombox-recorded confessions to creating impressive folk-rock and chamber-leaning arrangements. The words have always grabbed me first. Darnielle’s voice dominates, stout and confident until he twists into his signature nasal yelp. It’s an instrument well-suited to his distinctive storytelling, embodying characters whose indignations are rooted in a desperate desire for understanding. Something has changed with Getting into Knives, though. This time, it was the music that gripped me. Tracked at Memphis’s Sam Phillips Recording, the album features some of Darnielle’s finest songs since he signed with Durham’s Merge Records back in 2010. The band’s 19th album sets itself apart with expressive playing, ingenious arrangements, and engrossing instru22
October 21, 2020
mental chemistry. As good as the 18 records that came before it are, they feel like stones on the path to the more fully realized vision of The Mountain Goats on display here. They sound like a band, not just a vessel for a songwriting project. Take the marvelous “Bell Swamp Connection,” which draws evocative links between environmentalism and the isolation of the modern world. Looking up at the sky from a clearing near the ocean, Darnielle proclaims he’s “like a lobster in a cage, down in the depths beneath the bottom of a glass boat,” before shouting, “Get out! Get out! Get out! Get out!” This recitation, barely more than a performative poem reading, becomes magical thanks to a patient build of brushed drums, elegant piano, electric guitar, organ, and accordion. Even if there were no words, you’d still feel the unknowable expanse. The talent on deck for Getting into Knives is impressive, from the regular backers (Peter Hughes on bass, Jon Wurster on drums, Matt Douglas on woodwinds and other instruments) to the studio guests, which include ace Raleigh guitarist Chris Boerner and esteemed Al Green collaborator Charles Hodges on the Hammond B-3. And they never fail to elevate the stories at the heart of the album. On “As Many Candles as Possible,” a fuzzy rumble and volatile breakdown give life to the “risen beast in your nightmares,” with Wurster skillfully pacing the intensity. The Elton-Johnbut-evil attack of “Rat Queen” blesses downtrodden underworld dwellers everywhere, with menace and theatricality in equal measure. Equally impressive are the varied moods on more meditative numbers. Hughes and Douglas, on standup bass and sax respectively, instill piano lament “The Last Place I Saw You Alive” with perfect noir-ish melancholy. The title track, an ode to intimate methods of vengeance, breezes along with tropical drifts of acoustic guitar and Hodges’s playful organ, teasing irony while allowing Darnielle to remain sincere. Latticed with woodwinds from Douglas, “Tidal Wave” reminds the listener that the source of your demise may very well be a culprit you ignore. Darnielle has penned some great stories, and on Getting into Knives, the musicians surrounding him tell them as well as he does. It’s one of the band’s best albums yet. —Jordan Lawrence
RACHEL KIEL: DREAM LOGIC
[Self-released; Oct. 23]
achel Kiel’s third album, Dream Logic, begins and ends with a dream. “Foot on the pedal, I’m in control/What’s the worst that could happen?” she croons in the barn-burning opener, “Car Crash Dream,” a tense, percussion-saturated song about nightmares. That lucid awareness of dawning powerlessness haunts the rest of the 10-track album. “Favorite Work” is a lush symphonic tribute to doing what you love that showcases Kiel’s yearning, silvery alto, while “I Don’t Need You” is all jangly pop. Some songs have the energetic feel of Eye to the Telescope-era KT Tunstall, while the sweeping drama of others is reminiscent of Phoebe Bridgers. The dream world is a state of consciousness that the Chapel Hill songwriter and multi-instrumentalist says she’s orbited her whole life. The liner notes make a self-conscious reference to the adage “there’s nothing more boring than someone else’s dream,” but Dream Logic belies it. Nothing is boring about Kiel’s dreams. She has a remarkable way of universalizing both the material of the dreams themselves—vampires, car crashes, anxiety—and the way that dreams tend to leak over into real life, giving us longings and fears we can’t quite shake off. Invoking the pandemic in album reviews can feel like a reach, but Dream Logic’s subject is particularly of the zeitgeist: Scientists have already begun studying the “dream surge” that started when lockdown altered sleep patterns and spurred surreal anxieties. The lush, lilting instrumentation and infectious hooks mirror the flow of the songs, which ebb seamlessly between real and dream life, guided by the modulations of Kiel’s lovely, careful voice. Swoony album closer “Ava Gardner” is far and away the standout. Kiel says that she read Gardner’s autobiography at the precocious age of eight, and it comes across: You can practically feel yourself lying in a bed, perfume wafting through the window, as Kiel sings a compassionate lullaby to her childhood self: “I dreamed you as someone who’d understand me/And sometimes it was lonely/Being small and so relentless/So hopeful for the mystery.” Kiel is a gifted songwriter; lucky for us, she has her feet grounded in not just one world but two. —Sarah Edwards
M U SIC
WENDY SPITZER: PIECES OF GRIEF
felixobelix.com/piecesofgrief Wendy Spitzer PHOTO BY JADE WILSON
The Sound of Sorrow Wendy Spitzer on turning crowd-sourced grief into site-specific songs BY MICHAELA DWYER firstname.lastname@example.org
n a recent Saturday, I found myself walking along a wooded trail in a sonically overwhelmed state. I’d forgotten this feeling. I was listening to the audio project Pieces of Grief and had to stop and orient myself along several waves of sound: falling water, cascading piano, and an overlapping chorus of voices that distill to a single phrase: “How will I go on?” Pieces of Grief was created by the musician and multidisciplinary artist Wendy Spitzer, who makes meticulous art-pop and classical compositions as Felix Obelix. For this project, she orchestrated var-
ious sounds—voicemail excerpts, archival interviews, field recordings, and an original music score—into a set of seven audio works about grief. Released last week on Spitzer’s website, the work is freely accessible to anyone; Spitzer says that it was designed to be listened to in Raleigh’s Durant Nature Preserve, though she’s emphatic that any quiet outdoor space will do. Over Zoom, Spitzer and I discuss Pieces, which she composed during the pandemic. While the topic matches the world’s affective state, Spitzer originally pitched
the project to Raleigh Arts’ site-specific series SEEK Raleigh in February. The project was green-lit; just a month later, everything changed. “We were an entire globe of grief,” she remembers. The whole world, she says, was figuring out how to process “loss on a colossal scale.” To take up that “how,” Spitzer leaned into her history of participatory art-making, which navigates trust and togetherness with strangers and close collaborators alike. In 2018, as part of Downtown Durham, Inc.’s Public Space Project, Spitzer and photographer Douglas Vuncannon invited people wandering the street to form pairs and find something unusual they had in common. Participants wrote the result on a whiteboard, and Vuncannon took their portraits—hence the project’s title, Portraits in Common. “It showed how profound the answers can be if you ask the right couple of really simple questions,” Spitzer says. Similarly, her audio art aims to create conditions for honest disclosure. Last year, as part of another SEEK Raleigh project, she set up an anonymous hotline to collect reflections on mental health and mixed them with historical recordings for Dix in Sound in Situ, a “traveling audio installation” meant to be played at Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh, which is located on the site of a former mental hospital. Inspired by the emotional power of the Dix materials and the effectiveness of a temporally collaged sonic world, Spitzer took a similar approach for Pieces of Grief. She set up another hotline with a few simple prompts. None of them directly invoked COVID-19—“What emotions have you felt regarding your loss?” was one—but, inevitably, it came up, surfacing among reflections on dissociation and raw renderings of long-ago losses. Spitzer put these responses in context by sampling interviews from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Southern Oral History Program that were conducted in the 1970s with survivors of the 1918 Spanish flu. Alongside Spitzer’s soft keystrokes—in self-isolation, she not only composed but performed all the music for Pieces—a century-spanning conversation occurs.
“COVID hit, and it all kind of just swept away,” one person says. Picking up the thread, another sighs, exhausted: “I’m killing myself trying to make a living.” “I wanted to bring in these experiences from a long time ago to remind us that there were people who survived that time, and there will be people who survive this time,” Spitzer says. “And that things are cyclical. These are also universal, non-time-specific explorations.” Pieces begins with “Emotions,” which catalogs grief’s many embodiments. It ends with “The Big Picture,” which tracks how grief ripples outward, disrupting and regenerating our ideas about how to live. The latter sounds like the auditory equivalent of a forest clearing. The emotional distance of these aggregated recollections is both the anchor of the work and the site of its ethical thorniness: Listening to these pained voices, I felt like an eavesdropper, pulled into something heavy but unsure how to hold it. “There’s a dual danger,” Spitzer says of this sort of participatory project. “The first is that it just overwhelms you—it’s so sad that you cave before it. I certainly had some of those days. The secondary danger is that you listen to it so many times that it loses its content.” The project reflects bigger existential questions. How, as Spitzer puts it, do we not become “inured” to sorrow? The query is constant these days, whether listening to the voices in the audio installation or processing the daily deluge of deaths reported in the news. In the unconscionable absence of federal memorialization, where do we take our mourning? Maybe one answer lies in between the lines of grassroots exercises like this one. There’s a reason why Spitzer interspersed birdsong among the voices and why she stressed the importance of absorbing the material while walking outside. “There’s something about moving within the natural world,” Spitzer says. “You can feel very stuck in grief.” But in nature, which operates outside of the world of the pandemic, “you feel yourself moving forward,” she says, “even if you don’t feel like you’re moving forward.” W INDYweek.com
October 21, 2020
M U SIC
Small Wonders Will Phase 3 leave behind music venues too tiny for social distancing? BY MARY KING email@example.com
t’s the comfiest punk bar I’ve ever stepped foot in,” says the singer-songwriter al Riggs. They’re describing Chapel Hill experimental music hub Nightlight, which opened on Franklin Street in 2003. The intimate venue boasts stocked bookshelves, gender-neutral bathrooms, and, as Riggs puts it, couches “like your grandparents would have.” Riggs used to work the door and regularly play shows at Nightlight; for the past seven months, though, Nightlight has gone dark, with bills stacking up and an uncertain future ahead. At the end of September, Governor Roy Cooper moved North Carolina into Phase 3 of reopening; nightclubs and live performance venues are now permitted to host a maximum of 25 guests indoors. Hypothetically, this allowance could be helpful for larger venues with more room to spread out. Just a short walk from Nightlight, Cat’s Cradle has a 750-person capacity and commands higher ticket prices. But no venue has it easy, right now, and small venues with a DIY focus have been especially hardhit. Ethan Clauset, co-owner of Nightlight, doesn’t see the venue welcoming patrons back anytime soon. “Our capacity is about 135 people,” Clauset says. “I don’t see how you could have any kind of safe distancing without cutting down to 15 percent, maybe. Twenty people in there might, in theory, be safe, but in practice, it’s a small room with poor ventilation and low ceilings, and I don’t see any way to do that safely when there’s a highly contagious respiratory disease going around.” In the early days of the shutdown, Nightlight set up a GoFundMe; it has since raised a little over $14,000, most of which has gone to paying out a little to staff every month. A Paycheck Protection Program loan from the Small Business Administra24
October 21, 2020
tion helped, Clauset says, but it only covered two months of payroll. The National Independent Venue Association’s #SaveOurStages campaign had staked hope in the chance of a second stimulus bill getting passed before the election, galvanizing awareness with the results of an internal report: Without federal relief, 90 percent of independent venues surveyed reported they would shutter before the end of the year. For some, that alarming prospect is already a reality: Billboard maintains a growing index of venues across the country that have closed permanently during the pandemic, from beloved West Asheville institution The Mothlight to country-crooner hangout Douglas Corner Cafe in Nashville. “We have been sounding the alarm since April that if our members don’t get emergency assistance, they will go under forever—and it’s happening,” NIVA director of communications Audrey Fix Schaefer said in a statement. “This is real. We need help.” Early in October, President Trump quashed hopes of a bailout with a series of rapid-fire tweets that postponed any Congressional stimulus proceedings until after the election; though talks have since resumed, Raleigh’s Timothy Lemuel hadn’t been holding out hope for a bailout. Lemuel is the owner of three small eclectic downtown spaces: queer nightclub Ruby Deluxe, live music venue The Wicked Witch, and dive bar The Night Rider. Like Nightlight, Lemuel’s venues—which have capacities of 132, 49, and 200, respectively—first closed their doors in mid-March and haven’t generated revenue since. When a statewide order mandated that bars and entertainment venues close, Lemuel immediately laid off his employees so that they could apply for unemployment benefits. And, just like that, Ruby Deluxe became a one-person operation.
Timothy Lemuel at Ruby Deluxe PHOTO BY NICK WALTERS
One of his landlords is offering reduced rent, he says, but another has demanded that he pay back-rent in full. Plus, according to Lemuel, his venues have been unable to access government grants due to restrictions on eligibility, including a stipulation that recipients be able to pay full rent. A popular queer space for five years, Ruby Deluxe is known for its drag shows and dance parties. Most recently, it operated on a $5-per-year membership model. Now, the venue is in danger of shuttering permanently. The bar upstairs, from which Lemuel had been subleasing, is getting sold—which has put Lemuel in the position of trying to negotiate a 10-year lease. Currently, the bar owner is trying to raise the $25,000 he needs to secure the lease and save the bar. On September 28, he took to Facebook to ask for help—though he stresses that folks looking to donate should prioritize organizations helping Black trans people. “Local and federal government are definitely not gonna help me,” Lemuel
wrote, “and I need to get that out of my head.” On Saturday, Lemuel made an optimistic bet and reopened with outdoor seating for 45 people. That kind of crowd is a drop in the bucket of what Ruby needs to play catch-up, but Lemuel says he has plans for food trucks and drag brunches in the future. Drag queen Kyle Howard, whose stage name is Veruca Salt, estimates that he has performed at Ruby Deluxe between 40 and 50 times. He says he’s been well-paid by the venue and feels respected as an artist—and that he used to enjoy dropping in even when he wasn’t performing. It’s a welcoming oasis; a sign posted by the door says as much. “Consent is mandatory,” it reads. “Please respect people’s pronouns. A serious dance party may erupt at any moment, so please have yr best dance moves ready at all times.” If Ruby Deluxe goes under, it will be a loss for the community, Howard says. “I know for me, it would basically be getting rid of a safe space.” W
SC R E E N
THE PLANTERS | HHHH
Available Oct. 16–29 | carolinatheatre.org
BILL BURTON ATTORNEY AT LAW Un c o n t e s t e d Di vo rc e Bu s i n e s s L a w UNCONTESTED In c o r p o r a t i o n / L LC / DIVORCE Pa r t n e r s h i p MUSIC BUSINESS LAW Wi l l s INCORPORATION/LLC WILLS C o l l e c t i o n s SEPARATION AGREEMENTS Mu s i c
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CAROLINA THEATRE
Buried Treasure The Planters is a character-driven, low-budget comedy gem BY GLENN MCDONALD firstname.lastname@example.org
f you’re looking to cheer yourself up in a big way, clear a night this week for The Planters, an uncommonly good indie comedy and a kind of minor miracle in this Foul Year of Our Lord 2020. Written and directed by lead actors Alexandra Kotcheff and Hannah Leder— rookie filmmakers with ridiculously bright futures—The Planters was filmed with no on-set crew. Kotcheff and Leder handled everything themselves, from design and cinematography to costumes and makeup. They actually shot The Planters before the pandemic, but their radically DIY approach could easily be a blueprint for making a feature film in quarantine conditions. The story: Somewhere in the small desert towns of central California, Martha Plant (Kotcheff) is barely getting by as a work-from-home telemarketer. Her parents recently passed away—decapitated in a car accident, as it happens—and she’s desperately lonely. As a side gig, Martha has taken up “planting,” an entrepreneurial scheme where she buries trinkets in the desert, posts the GPS coordinates on flyers for local treasure hunters to find, then collects whatever cash they choose to leave as compensation.
“You should be proud, you’re doing something really asinine, and it’s working.” That’s Angie, one of three personalities living inside Sadie Mayflower (Leder), who was recently evicted from a mental health facility. Sadie moves in with Martha, and the two young women—four, really—develop a very deep, very weird bond as the adventures begin. Kotcheff and Leder have created something special here—a character-driven comedy with a tiny budget, a great script, and some lovely performances. Kotcheff, as the tightly wound Martha, has the kind of precise comic timing you’re either born with or not. She delivers whole jokes just using her eyes. Leder, meanwhile, develops distinct characters for her multiple personalities. Also, watch for interstitial Bible jokes in stop-motion animation. It’s hard to explain. There’s a little bit of Wes Anderson here, with the quiet wit and symmetrical visual compositions. But the film also operates on its own delightful comic wavelength, and you come to care about these two oddballs. It cheered me up mightily. The Planters is available as an early release in a kind of virtual theatrical run via The Carolina Theatre’s website. W INDYweek.com
October 21, 2020
PACKING AND CRACKING: AN INTERACTIVE MAPMAKING EVENT
The Process Series (online) | Friday, Oct. 23 & Saturday, Oct. 24, 7:30 p.m., free | packingandcracking.com A map from Packing and Cracking PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSEPH MEGEL
Drawing the Line The dangers of gerrymandering get equal representation in Packing and Cracking BY BYRON WOODS email@example.com
nce, politicians could keep the chicanery, intrigue, and villainous fun of gerrymandering legislative districts all to themselves. But no longer: In Packing and Cracking, Joseph Amodei and Rachel Gita Karp’s offbeat interactive livestream performance for UNC’s Process Series this weekend, audiences get the chance to play along at home. “They give you a map in one of the exercises and say, ‘Okay, do your best to gerrymander it this way,’” Joseph Megel, the series’ founder and artistic director, notes. “Then they rate your ability to do it most effectively.” Gerrymandering is the notorious practice of tweaking legislative maps to maximize one political party’s advantage and deny voters equal representation. Methods include the techniques referenced in the show’s title: “packing” voters of the same party into one district to reduce their voting power in surrounding areas, and “cracking” open a region where a party already has a clear majority, so its voters are split into smaller, weaker groups in surrounding districts. It may seem counterintuitive for activist artists to combat the practice by schooling audiences in the specific tactics politicians use. But if knowledge is power, Karp, a theatrical director long interested in making work about U.S. 26
October 21, 2020
politics and public policy, and Amodei, a new media artist whose designs graced a series of superior stage productions in this area during their undergraduate years at UNC-Chapel Hill, are intent on redistributing that power as widely as possible, in works that double as acts of civic self-defense. In 13 self-styled map-making games, the duo probes North Carolina’s long and continuing history as one of the most gerrymandered states in the U.S. Then they unpack some of the finer—and sneakier—points in the practice and encourage virtual viewers to play with them. “A relatively simple way of drawing groups of dots together ends up being a really clarifying moment,” Amodei says. “People see how easy it could be to do this with people in districts across state geography.” Along the way, video interviews with the local legislators and civic activists fighting demographic disenfranchisement reinforce the real-world stakes involved. “Maps seem neutral,” Amodei says. “When local municipalities use them to outline school districts or delineate days for garbage collection, they “appear to be some neutral breakdown of a task that has to be done to meet the needs of people in an area.”
But critical cartography, the analysis of mapping practices that investigates the information that is revealed or concealed in traditional topography, shows that maps reflect—and can be used to perpetuate—the power relationships among different groups. “In fact, they’re these culturally heavy-laden documents that have all the biases of any other sort of cultural institution built into them,” Amodei says. A conventional paper map has to remove the third dimension, height, just to fit on a two-dimensional sheet. But in practice, political maps often remove multiple dimensions found in the lives and diversity of a region’s people. “Part of what we try to do is re-dimensionalize these lines that are often invisible and make them visible in communities,” Amodei says. As a North Carolina native who grew up in Chapel Hill, Amodei became aware of gerrymandering during college. “I started noticing some extremely partisan policies that were passing in the state legislature, but weren’t in line with the purple state that we are,” Amodei recalls. “That’s when I first discovered that the maps had been drawn in ways that guaranteed Republican supermajorities.” Though Democrats in North Carolina did the same for most of the previous century, Amodei notes that gerrymandering reached “a point of extremity” during the 2010 election. “For the first time, computers could use algorithms to analyze data down to specific houses,” Amodei says. “They could think about where potential voters might move, model the future, and create districts that were extreme in a way that hadn’t been possible when it was just people doing it.” Karp says it was the 2017 Supreme Court case Gill v. Whitford that put gerrymandering on her visual field. “That’s when I really learned how manipulative redistricting can be in our country,” she says. “It’s at the root of a lot of the problems of our country: the extreme partisanship, that disconnect between the values and views of elected officials and what their voters want.” “I like to say that if you care about immigration, the biggest immigration rights issue is gerrymandering. The biggest reproductive rights issue is gerrymandering,” Karp says. “As long as things are gerrymandered, we’re not going to be able to elect people who actually agree with us on those issues.” One of the project’s first research questions was: What does gerrymandering feel like? It’s a difficult question, but in centering the experience around participants’ lives, the co-creators “try to help people feel how it affects them and the issues they care about.” Megel says the resulting performance gives audiences direct engagement with the impact and effects of gerrymandering. “You understand it in a material way, but you feel it in a visceral way. It’s a very dynamic experience.” W
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“Lively, colorful, customer-centered gift shop featuring local artists and designers.”
ur new home is your new home. We’re excited to announce that DECO Raleigh and DECO Home will now be ONE BIG NEW STORE. Even better? It’s only a few yards from our original address, just around our corner. We can’t wait to have plenty of space to offer you more of what you love: unique, smart, and local gifts, artwork and home goods. We will be open and ready for business during the month of July…watch social media for the exact date. Join us for an official Grand Opening Celebration on Friday, August 3, starting early in the afternoon and extending through First Friday. We’ll be serving up Trophy Brewing beer and Union Special goodies while you shop and check out the new space. We’ve curated a collection of new goods including expanded offerings in home goods, kids, jewelry and pet sections. And of course, we have lots of new makers represented. Since the first day we opened the doors of DECO Raleigh in 2012, we have loved getting to know YOU and stocking cool things that our customers have requested. Owner, Pam Blondin, had a vision that DECO would be a gathering place for neighbors, friends and visitors, and we love that people now see us that way. Our parklet, sidewalk mural and community partnerships are all part of our commitment to the Raleigh we love. This new space is our forever home and we look forward to building a better store experience with your help. We love hearing customers laughing in the card section or calling their friends over to see the perfect gift. Your ideas and suggestions help make the community we build and support better. Watch our new store for special pop-up events that will feature up-and-coming artists and makers as we continue to support the arts and creative minds that make Downtown Raleigh such a great place to live and work.
POT S S S SINE
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October 21, 2020
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P U Z Z L ES
IT KEEPAL! LOC e
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this week’s puzzle level:
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There is really only one rule to Sudoku: Fill in the game board so that the numbers 1 through 9 occur exactly once in each row, column, and 3x3 box. The numbers can appear in any order and diagonals are not considered. Your initial game board will consist of several numbers that are already placed. Those numbers cannot be changed. Your goal is to fill in the empty squares following the simple rule above.
If you just can’t wait, check out the current week’s answer key at www.indyweek.com, and click “puzzle pages.” Best of luck, and have fun! www.sudoku.com solution to last week’s puzzle
October 21, 2020
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C L AS S I F I E D S NOTICES
Durham County Board of Elections Notice of Resolution to Adopt a Time for Counting of Absentee Ballots
Transportation Engineer II Transportation Engineer II, HNTB Corporation, Raleigh, NC. Perform engineering-related tasks for the Highway Department, including the preparation of feasibility studies, traffic forecasts, traffic capacity and operations analysis, and other related traffic engineering work. Travel required up to 15% of the time. Reference job # 0172B & mail resume to A. Holloway 715 Kirk Drive, Kansas City, MO 64105. EOE.
On 9/10/2020, the Durham County Board of Elections met virtually, and adopted a resolution of the following effect: 1. The Board of Elections shall meet at 2:00 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, 11/3/2020 at 2445 S. Alston Avenue, Durham, to count absentee ballots. 2. The results of the absentee ballot count will not be announced before 7:30 p.m. on the date of the primary/ election. 3. The Board of Elections shall meet at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, 11/12/2020 at 2445 S. Alston Avenue, Durham, to count additional timely-received absentee ballots prior to the county canvass. 4. In-person access to Board meetings will be limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board of Elections will provide for a telephonic and/or online platform option for the public to participate.
Software Engineer Software Engineer (SEGG) Design user-facing appls for rate mgmt sw sys for transportation industry. MS+1 yr rltd exp. Send resumes to WiseTech Global (U.S.) Inc., Attn: Allison Cash, 40105 Moring, Chapel Hill, NC 27517. Must ref title & Job code.
LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE
HEALTH & WELL BEING
Bolinwood Condominiums Affordability without compromise
Convenient to UNC on N bus line 2 & 3 bedroom condominiums for lease
www.bolinwoodcondos.com • 919-942-7806
INDY Week Press Club Help keep local journalism free and and accessible.
BECOME A MEMBER TODAY AT bit.ly/INDYWeekPressClub INDY CLASSIFIEDS firstname.lastname@example.org
October 21, 2020
3 Winners will be chosen at random to recieve a $100 Visa gift card Not on social media? Email pics to email@example.com
Buy Local Curbside Pickup or We Ship USA | Our design or yours - www.LadyLapTop.com - 919-638-0050 Also at Sat. Downtown Durham Farmers market 10-1
ADVERTISE WITH Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or John Hurld at 919-286-1972
ADVERT I S I N G
SIGNS & Metal holder: Yard, Door, Window, Dorm - Waterproof - Get $5 Off Mention Indy
Weekly deadline 4pm Friday