The International Civil Rights Center & Museum denied a request this week from the Spirit of the Sit-in Movement Initiative and other organizations to screen “9500 Liberty.” The film explores a county grappling with the implementation of 287g immigration policy which allows police to act as immigration enforcement agents. For more information on the film, visit: http://www.9500liberty.com/
Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes is a staunch supporter of 287g despite widespread opposition throughout Greensboro and the county. The educational film was meant to be shown later in the summer to raise awareness about 287g and generate discussion about immigration reform locally and federally.
The International Civil Rights Center & Museum DENIED the request to screen the film on their premises, even though one of the Center’s explicit aims is to engage in educational work around modern day issues related to civil rights and social justice. Below are the three primary reasons given from the Center as to why the request was denied, highlighting the staunchly conservative nature of the Center, which appears to be primarily a money-making venture. At the bottom is a screen shot of the email from someone at Faith Action explaining to the rest of the group why they were denied by the Center. The name and some other personal information were blacked out to respect privacy.
THE REASONS GIVEN (paraphrased):
1. They don’t want to work too closely with the Spirit of the Sit-In-Movement and confuse the public’s understanding of the difference between their organizations.
2. 287g in Guilford County – they believe that this issue is too politically controversial at the local level for an organization as “young” as theirs who is concerned with the community reputation. Also, a county commissioner is on their board.
3. They aren’t confident that it will ultimately make them any money. (If they knew that 10 people would join the museum because of this event, if we would pay rent for using the space, or if people would pay admission, they might do it.)
For more information see https://www.gsoindymedia.org/node/166
Check out the Carolina Peacemaker’s article that came out today on the Spirit of the Sit-in Movement Initiative.
Also, if you didn’t see last week’s YES! Weekly cover story about us, you can find it here.
In a retaliatory measure, the five members of the SSMI who were arrested were banned from City Council meetings for two years by the City Manager.
In an attempt not to be silenced and to exercise their democratic rights, Cherrell Brown and other members of the Spirit of the Sit-in Movement Initiative recorded this video to play at Council. When the City Manager found out about the video minutes before it was played during the public comment section of the following City Council meeting, he refused to let it be played. Eric Ginsburg, a member of the organization, read the text of her speech.
Yesterday, the absurd 6pm -6am curfew on the five Spirit of the Sit-ins members who were arrested for an act of civil disobedience at a recent City Council meeting was lifted after a legal challenge by their lawyer.
The curfew surprised many, as the five were simply charged with second degree trespassing for an act of nonviolent civil disobedience. One of the students arrested was unable to take a summer class at A&T because of the curfew. He wanted to take the night class because he works during the day.
The five are also no longer banned from all city property. Instead they cannot enter the Melvin Municipal Office Building where City Council meets (and also happens to be the place to pay water bills in person, file a complaint with the Human Relations Commission, and more).
The City Manager’s office imposed a two year ban from City Council meetings on the five arrested. This ban still stands. In fact, last week when someone from the Spirit of the Sit-in Movement Initiative attempted to show a video including one of the five in a presentation to City Council during speakers from the floor, he was denied. The City Manager and Asst. City Manager for Public Safety admitted that while this limit on free speech was not articulated in the letter banning the five from meetings, they were using their authority to prevent the video from being shown.
We will post the video to our website as soon as possible.
On Sunday, May 16, members of the Spirit of the Sit-in Movement Initiative spoke at the
Two members of the Spirit of the Sit-ins speaking at the NAACP meeting
NAACP meeting at New Light Missionary Baptist Church about the work we are involved in and asked for community support. Along with the Greensboro Pulpit Forum, Beloved Community Center, and the NAACP, the Spirit of the Sit-in Movement Initiative is launching Greensboro Justice Summer. More details coming soon.
We also had internal meetings Friday, Saturday, and Monday to continue to move our work forward.
Wednesday morning, the Spirit of the Sit-in Movement Initiative held a joint press conference with the Greensboro Pulpit Forum and the NAACP to address the pervasive and dangerous issue of a subculture of corruption in the Greensboro Police Department. We were joined by the state president of the NAACP, Rev. William Barber, who spoke about the need to involve state and national leadership of the NAACP as well as the state and federal government in the ongoing lack of police accountability in the city. The press conference was well attended by local press. The News-Record covered it beforehand in their police blog as well as a front page web article afterwards. The Carolina Peacemaker was there as well as YES! Weekly who already posted a well-researched article on their website. In addition, Channel 14 did a piece as did Fox 8, and WFMY Channel 2 ran a short article.
SSMI holding a banner in front of the meeting
On Tuesday, six members of the Spirit of the Sit-in Movement Initiative attended the meeting for community input on the selection process for a new police chief. We held a banner outside and passed out flyers highlighting the characteristics that are important for a chief and those aspects that we do not wish to continue. Some members spoke inside the meeting, and many of the people in attendance were community members who were at our meeting Monday. The two other community input meetings had pathetically low turnout, with one of them netting just one attendee.