Wednesday, October 27, 2021

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Graham, NC 27253
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Supposed “leaders” should provide some evidence, or stop saying, local courts don’t provide equal justice for all

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[EDITORIAL]

We note with some skepticism the comments of so-called, and self-described, “leaders of Alamance County,” who this week decided to spring a press conference to recommend the removal of the Confederate monument standing guard for more than century at the courthouse.

But these supposed “leaders” had opinions, sometimes stated as though fact, far beyond the appropriate placement of this memorial which was erected in 1914 to Alamance County’s Confederate veterans and those who died for the South’s side during the Civil War.

Included amid the rationale for the removal of the statue was this canard, “The monument’s prominent location before a house of justice, an entity which has historically failed to serve our communities of color with equality, perpetuates this symbol as a barrier to the inclusion we aspire to achieve.”

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Let’s focus on that broad brush of indictment, calling the Historic Court House “an entity which has historically failed to serve our communities of color with equality.”

If, by “historically,” the “leaders” want to focus on the late 1800’s (after 1849 when the county was established) or even up until the midpoint in the 1900’s, we won’t take great umbrage inasmuch as blacks faced a host of impediments in everyday life, including in the court system.

But the implication, as seemed clearly intended, is as though Alamance County’s courts or court system, as epitomized by its main courthouse (and its upstairs courtroom), doesn’t provide equal justice for all citizens now.

We know of no contemporary evidence to support such a broad and damning accusation even as an opinion, much less that it should be touted as a fact.

If these self-anointed “leaders” know of miscarriages of justice based on race, they should outline them promptly. Such injustices, if they exist, are far more serious and important to be addressed than the nature of a statue in front of the building.

They should notify the local district attorney, the Attorney General of North Carolina, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District, and any other judicial official(s) they can find stretching all the way to Washington, D.C.

We might also note that justice is not administered by the building (neither the one behind the monument nor the two other court buildings down the street), but by judges who preside within in Alamance County courtrooms who have been elected by the people of this county.

If there are any Alamance County judges (four who preside in district court and two in superior court) who are unfair, specifically based on race, they should be called out.

We know there are nuances of difference in approach among the judges – some are considered more “tough on crime” than others – but we’ve never heard any credible evidence that any of these six current judges presides over, or rules in, cases based on any racial prejudice whatsoever.

Not toward defendants.

Not toward witnesses.

Not toward defense attorneys.

And to imply otherwise, as these “leaders” did, is irresponsible.

One of the six current local judges is even black himself. Surely, he’s not included in this supposed indictment of Alamance County justice toward black participants or other minorities who come into his courtroom.

The self-appointed “leaders” say they want a “bright, prosperous future” for the county. Perhaps they could start down that road by apologizing for the hyperbole they engaged in while advocating for the monument’s removal.

We think they make it much more difficult to engage in a substantive discussion over the monument when they inflame the situation by raising broader, unrelated, and unsubstantiated charges without any hard evidence, data, or specific examples to support their claims.

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