Up & Coming Weekly

April 20, 2021

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 10 of 24

10 UCW APRIL 21-27, 2021 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM NEWS Mayor answers call for transparency in reforms by MITCH COLVIN Following a protest downtown Friday, April 16, Up & Coming Weekly asked Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin to respond to claims that little has been done in the last year to address discrimination and local policing practices. Mayor Colvin's response is printed below. As millions of people across our nation grapple with the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others at the hands of injustice, the call to stand together as a community grows louder. e tragedies we have all witnessed across this nation are heartbreaking, and we must find a way to bring meaningful change. Meaningful change calls for unity, and unity takes work. Whether you serve as a teacher in our commu- nity, elected official, health care professional, small business owner or union worker, I encourage you to consider how you can help our community unify in your everyday work. As we listen to the call for equal justice, both in our community and in our nation, I encourage you to think of your neighbors as yourself. We must love our neighbors, and we must treat each other as we ourselves want to be treated. I am encouraged by the new generation of lead- ers who have joined together to exercise their first amendment right to peacefully protest, and I am extremely proud of the changes we have seen in the City of Fayetteville's policing and operations. I challenge those who are protesting, help us build the community we all desire, one that works for all of us, not just a few. While our city has certainly had its problems with racial and social bias, to include aggressive polic- ing in predominately Black communities, we have come a long way over the last 8 years. e city began revamping its policing policies after the rebuke of the DOJ, in 2012/2013. Because of this, many of the changes made were proactive and allowed us to get a head start on the necessary changes long before many of these national tragedies we see today. Over the last year, our city council has taken an in- ternal and external review to ensure diversity inclu- sion in our hiring practices, economic policies and the systemic policies used to serve our community. •We have established the Fayetteville Citizens Ad- visory Board to assist in building better relationships with law enforcement and the communities they serve. We passed the 4th resolution requesting of the North Carolina General Assembly to allow for the establishment of a Police Review/Oversight Board. •In addition to increased training we have imple- mented body cameras, and impressed upon the city manager to enforce a zero tolerance policy for racial discrimination or racial motivated policing through- out our city. •We have also established a local and minority participation policy for the entire city's contracting and spending. We have invested and/or committed to investing over $15 Million dollars into under- served communities, such as Murchison Road, B Street, Campbell Avenue and others. •We have invested $100,000 in restoring and the revitalization of Orange Street School (Original loca- tion of the city's Historically Black High School) and requesting $1M from the state of NC. •We have invested nearly $400,000 in restoration of the E. E. Smith House, home of the first President of Fayetteville State, our local HBCU. •We have increased our support for community development programs such as increased home ownership and working to strategically address the city's Tier 1 status. •We have engaged the Department of Justice to implement the City Spirit Program to improve race relations. While we have come a long way as a nation, 2020 and 2021 have reminded us all that we must con- tinue to work together to bridge the racial divide in America. I am grateful to God that we are a commu- nity willing to accept and address our shortcomings, and we are a community willing to unify. Because of this, I stand confident that Fayetteville, North Carolina, will continue to advance as an All American City, by name and by deed. City Council votes to repurpose Market House by JEFF THOMPSON For nearly 200 years the historic Market House has been the focal point of downtown Fayetteville. Its very existence has been an irritant for many African Americans. Its presence has been an object of public debate for many years. On April 15, City Council decided not to tear the building down or move it out of downtown, which would be virtually impossible because of its architecture. Council voted 9-1 to repurpose the landmark. Lo- cal architects suggested turning it into an art exhibit, making it into a place that displays Fayetteville history with a focus on Black contributors, making it into a marketplace for strictly Black vendors or using it to create an event space. at decision has yet to be made. e Market House was built in 1832 on the site of the old State House, which had been where North Carolina delegates ratified the U.S. Constitution. But the state house was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1831. e Market House is one of only 50 National Landmarks in North Carolina. Architecturally unique, the structure is one of the few in America to use the town hall - market scheme found in Eng- land. Household goods were sold beneath the build- ing, while the second floor was utilized originally as the town hall. Occasionally enslaved people were sold at or near the Market House. e vast majority of the slaves were sold as a result of indebtedness or estate liquidation. Unlike New Orleans, Richmond and Charleston, S.C. North Carolina cities were not slave markets. On April 16, a small group of demonstrators took up a position at Market Square in response to what they called "the persistent injustice facing Black lives." e group, mostly young, staged the protest which drew some support from passing motorists. Several police squad cars patrolled the vicinity for an hour before the five o'clock session began. e group said members intend to hold similar demon- strations every Friday evening in May. e Cumberland County administration closed government buildings in the downtown Fayetteville area at 4 p.m. "to allow employees to leave the area prior to potential protest activities," as stated in a news release. e news release stated all of the county's govern- ment buildings downtown, including the court- house, board of elections office and headquarters library would close early. City administrative staff members were sent home at 4:30, according to a city spokeswoman. In 1989, Fayetteville City Council commissioned a plaque to be attached to the exterior of the Market House where it still stands. It reads in part: "In memory and honor of those indomitable people who were stripped of their dig- nity when sold as slaves at this place. eir courage at that time was a proud heritage of all times. ey endured the past so the future could be won for free- dom and justice." TO OUR READERS MITCH COLVIN, Mayor of Fayetteville. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomin- gweekly.com. 910- 484-6200. In 1989, Fayetteville City Council commissioned a plaque for the Market House to honor past African Americans held in slavery. (Photo by Jeff ompson) JEFF THOMPSON, Reporter. COMMENTS? Editor@upand- comingweekly.com. 910-484- 6200.

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