In late November, after months of engagement by day laborers and civil rights activists, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen unanimously voted to repeal the town's unconstitutional anti-lingering ordinance. Purportedly adopted to target public alcohol consumption, littering and verbal harassment, the ordinance made it illegal to “stand, sit, recline, linger, or otherwise remain” in a small area of town where day laborers congregated to wait for work each day. No other part of the town was subject to this restriction.
Read More... (Unconstitutional Anti-Lingering Ordinance Repealed)
Posted by Mark Dorosin on Wed. December 14, 2011 3:35 PM
Categories: Community Inclusion, First Amendment, Immigrants' Rights, Race Discrimination
The Center for Civil Rights, on behalf of several African American parents and the Pitt Coalition for the Education of Black Children (“the Coalition”), recently appealed a decision from the Eastern District of North Carolina denying their motion for relief, which sought a judicial determination that Pitt County Schools’ (“PCS”) 2011-2012 student reassignment contravened the 1970 desegregation orders still governing the district. PCS is one of the few remaining school districts in the country still under a federal desegregation order, and the board’s affirmative duty to show that its actions move the district toward unitary status is at the core of the appeal to be argued before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on January 26, 2012.Read the Center's brief ().
Read More... (Center to Argue School Desegregation Case at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals)
Posted by Mark Dorosin on Sun. December 4, 2011 10:35 PM
Categories: Education, Pitt County, Race Discrimination, Segregation
In the 2011-2012 school year, the brand-new Walnut Creek Elementary school in Southeast Raleigh became both the first test of the Wake County School Board’s neighborhood schools assignment plan and an example of the racially discriminatory effect of the model.
Given a blank slate, the Wake County School Board’s conservative majority opened Walnut Creek as a racially segregated, high poverty, crowded school – troubling demographics that were not only easilyavoidable today, but also would have been unacceptable under the previous socioeconomic diversity plan.
Mark Dorosin commented on Walnut Creeks’ continued overcrowding and low-performance problems on Cash Michael’s “Make it Happen” radio show, Nov. 17, 2011: "The school board had a blank slate, a tabula rasa, [and they] created a brand new school that was a racially isolated, high poverty, low performing school. [W]hen confronted with that, the board assured the community that additional resources would be put into that school to accommodate for whatever needs would be presented there...In a sense, the school board was telling the community was ‘separate but equal.’ What we got is separate, and grossly unequal.
The complainants [in the Title IV case] were saying that this would happen, and we now see that it has in fact borne out. The worst case scenario we envisioned has come to fruition.”
Read More... (The Canary in the Coal Mine: Overcrowded and low-performing Walnut Creek Elementary shows the future of Wake County’s neighborhood schools approach)
Posted by Taiyyaba A. Qureshi on Tue. November 29, 2011 3:00 PM
Categories: Education, Segregation, Wake County
Legal representation of community groups presents unique ethical questions, especially when those groups are not legally incorporated. The rules of professional conduct generally envision a lawyer's duties to an individual client within the bounds of a formal lawyer-client relationship. Community lawyering often presents challenges that differ from this more traditional pattern. The Center for Civil Rights will address these ethical questions in an upcoming ethics CLE presented by the UNC Center for Civil Rights.
On December 1, the Center for Civil Rights will present: The People's Lawyer: A Course and Case Study in Community-Based Lawyering.
In addition to the ethics portion, the CLE also includes a case study of the Center’s community based advocacy to combat school resegregation in North Carolina. The Center will present its work with community groups in Halifax County who are working together to address the continuing challenges of inter-district segregation and educational improvement. The CLE will examine law and policy associated with public school segregation and education quality in North Carolina, and will examine litigation and non-litigation methods of addressing the issues.
Read More... (Center's upcoming Ethics CLE on Community-Based Lawyering especially relevant in light of Occupy movements)
Posted by Mark Dorosin on Mon. November 14, 2011 4:11 PM
Categories: Halifax County, Professional Development, Segregation
On October 10, attorneys from the UNC Center for Civil Rights represented the Royal Oak community in Brunswick County in a quasi-judicial hearing in front of the county planning board over whether they will permit a new landfill in this historic black community. Royal Oak, one of only a few majority black communities in this 82% white county, is already burdened with the county’s only open landfill, its waste transfer station, sewage treatment facility, animal shelter, and numerous sand mines (privately owned but permitted by the county). In addition, the county has denied water and sewer service to the community, even though they installed pipes within a few hundred feet of residents to serve the animal shelter and sewage treatment plant. The Center for Civil Rights, along with the NC Fair Housing Project and the law firm of K&L Gates, currently represents the community in a separate lawsuit alleging that the placement of environmental hazards and the denial of water and sewer service is illegal racial discrimination and violates the North Carolina Fair Housing Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the NC Constitution. The lawsuit also alleges the county violated zoning laws in rezoning the properties to allow the new landfill.
News Updates on continued January 9, 2011 Special Exception Permit Hearing:
Read More... (Don’t Dump On Us – Brunswick County Landfill Sited in Historic Black Royal Oak Community)
Landfill expansion plan sparks concern on property values, Star News, (Jan. 9, 2012)
Hearing for Brunswick landfill expansion continues, WECT, (Jan. 10, 2012
Hearing on landfill expansion continued until February, Brunswick Beacon (Jan. 10, 2012)
Brunswick County taxpayers paying for landfill not yet open, WECT (Jan. 10, 2012)
Posted by Peter Hull Gilbert on Mon. November 7, 2011 1:45 PM
Categories: Brunswick County, Community Inclusion, Environmental Justice
The Center for Civil Rights, in collaboration with the UNC Law Schools Pro Bono Program and Legal Aid of North Carolina, helped coordinate and lead the sixth pro bono Wills Project. The project provides intensive practical skills training for law students, and then takes them into under-resourced communities across the state to help prepare wills, powers of attorney and living wills for Legal Aid eligible clients. In October, 22 law students, working under the supervision of Center staff, Legal Aid and volunteer private lawyers, staffed wills clinics in Chatham and Moore County, and served 29 clients and drafted and executed 76 advanced directives.
The Center's interest in the Wills Project, which it helped initiate in 2009, is twofold: to prospectively address the challenges that heirs' property presents in the excluded communities with which we work; and to help engage and train the next generation of civil rights lawyers.
Read More... (Addressing the Challenges of Heirs' Property – Fall Break 2011 Wills Trip)
Posted by Mark Dorosin on Fri. November 4, 2011 3:33 PM
Categories: Community Inclusion, Heirs' Property, Law Students, Pro Bono
Center Attorneys joined the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, the Human Rights Center of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, and other concerned citizens on the intersection of Jones Ferry and Davie road, where Town Code Section 5-20 makes it illegal to stand after 11:00 a.m.
Center Attorney Elizabeth Haddix addressed the crowd in English and Spanish, calling the ordinance a violation of both the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution. Haddix said, "As others have already discussed, this ordinance violates the First Amendment. But it also has a overt and intentional racially discriminatory impact. The ordinance clearly targets the brown and black men who regularly meet here. That the ordinance language is racially neutral is no defense to its discriminatory impacts or its endorsement of negative racial stereotypes."
Read More... ("This Gathering Is Illegal" - CCR Joins Press Conference and Rally to Protest Carrboro's Anti-Lingering Ordinance)
Posted by Taiyyaba A. Qureshi on Tue. October 25, 2011 4:00 PM
Categories: Community Inclusion, First Amendment, Immigrants' Rights
The Center began working in Halifax County in 2008 on a range of community inclusion issues.
Lincoln Heights, an excluded community on the outskirts of the City of Roanoke Rapids, worked with the Center to stop the City from locating a solid waste transfer station in their neighborhood, which has been the site of several previous municipal waste facilities. The community’s engagement and advocacy also helped bring public attention to other exclusion based impacts issues affecting Lincoln Heights, including denial of access to municipal services and electoral power in local government.
As we continued to work with communities across the county on a range of issues, one theme consistently emerged among residents throughout Halifax County: "Something is very wrong with the schools in this county."
Read More... (The State of Education in Halifax County - A Five-Month Update)
Posted by Taiyyaba A. Qureshi on Sat. October 22, 2011 8:10 PM
Categories: Education, Halifax County, Leandro, Segregation
The UNC Center for Civil Rights and our client communities have been working in the legislature since 2006 to remove the hurdles to low income underbounded communities seeking annexation and needed municipal services. The enacted bill lowers the signature requirements for voluntary annexation of these communities, provides priority funding to municipalities to extend water and sewer service to these communities, and in certain cases requires municipalities to annex communities they have historically excluded. In partnership with the N.C. Justice Center, we hope these communities will soon be able to seek annexation and access to clean water.
Read More... (N.C. Enacts Center for Civil Rights' Suggested Annexation Law Changes to Aid Excluded Communities)
Posted by Taiyyaba A. Qureshi on Fri. July 1, 2011 3:35 PM
Categories: Annexation, Community Inclusion, Halifax Taxes