<br />NEW HANOVER COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS BOOK 34
<br />REGULAR MEETING, JUNE 1, 2020 PAGE 537
<br /> The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners met in Regular Session on Monday, June 1, 2020, at 4:00
<br />p.m. in the Wilmington Convention Center, 10 Convention Center Drive, Wilmington, North Carolina.
<br /> Members present: Chair Julia Olson-Boseman; Vice-Chair Patricia Kusek; Commissioner Jonathan Barfield,
<br />Jr.; Commissioner Woody White; and Commissioner Rob Zapple.
<br /> Staff present: County Manager Chris Coudriet; County Attorney Wanda M. Copley; and Clerk to the Board
<br />Kymberleigh G. Crowell.
<br /> Chair Olson-Boseman stated she wanted to start the meeting by acknowledging the anger, outrage, and
<br />pain that so many people are feeling. The egregious and horrific murder of George Floyd has been the catalyst for
<br />recent protests, but what happened to Mr. Floyd is not a singular act. It is another example of the systemic racism
<br />that has existed long before last week. We must work together to achieve racial justice and positive change. We
<br />must challenge ourselves to have peaceful, honest, and open discussions about racism. We must be accepting and
<br />kind. Last night’s protest in Wilmington began peacefully but, sadly, turned confrontational. She thanked Sheriff Ed
<br />McMahon, Police Chief Donny Williams, and their dedicated teams for protecting our community last night. She also
<br />thanked District Attorney Ben David and City of Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo for their leadership. She applauds Mayor
<br />Saffo’s decisive action to implement a curfew last night to limit any potential damage to our city and harm to our
<br />residents. On Saturday, a different protest occurred and she applauds those who came out, during the day, to
<br />peacefully standup to racial injustice. She encourages those who want to protest to follow the lead of our local Black
<br />Lives Matter and NAACP groups who are working to fight injustice and racism, in a way that breaks down walls
<br />peacefully and creates positive change. She also encourages everyone to come together in solidarity and to build
<br />equity for every single person. Violence or hatred will not move this forward. Let’s stand together. Let’s hold
<br />ourselves accountable. Let’s all do better, know better, and love better.
<br /> Commissioner Barfield stated that as he looked at the video footage this past weekend and heard from
<br />others around the country of their outrage over the death of this young man who lost his life way too soon at the
<br />hands of law enforcement, what we see is a pattern that is continuing to bear its head over and over again in our
<br />country to the point where people are as outraged as he is. Somehow we've got to find a way to make sure that
<br />when it comes to policing, that justice is always at the forefront of any officer’s mind. He has seen some memes
<br />saying that we always talk about the good cops, but where area the good cops when the bad cops act up. With Mr.
<br />Floyd, there were four officers there, which means that there was not one good cop in the bunch to stop what
<br />happened. He is getting ready for his daughter's wedding in November and he will be walking her down the aisle.
<br />Mr. Floyd has a daughter who will never have her father walk her down the aisle. Somehow we have got to get past
<br />the implicit biases and the racism that we have. Racism is nothing new in this country. It's just being filmed now. It's
<br />being videotaped. Now it's being exposed through social media. We all as African-Americans have our own stories
<br />to tell. Several years ago, one of his daughters was pulled over for no other reason than driving while black at Kure
<br />Beach. When he was told by the then mayor of Kure Beach that he should apologize to the officer for even bringing
<br />up the conversation about a kid that did nothing wrong other than an officer saying her car did not belong in that
<br />cul-de-sac, he thought how can you determine what car belongs in a tourist beach community? Are you that
<br />clairvoyant? He thinks not. In the last few weeks, he has had his own instances with New Hanover County
<br />government and going over to the Senior Resource Center (SRC) to get a mask, dressed in shorts and a ball cap. The
<br />nurse asked him if he worked for the County. He did not understand how a 12-year employee of the County did not
<br />recognize his face. She went to take his temperature but did not want to get too close so she held the thermometer
<br />about four inches away from his head and told him his temperature was 93 degrees. He thought any competent
<br />nurse would know that if a person has a 93-degree temperature, they need to be in the hospital, not standing before
<br />her. Then the comment was “Well you're not dressed like…”, so his question is how is he supposed to dress to be
<br />recognized by folks that work for the organization that he helps lead? So he goes back the following week, a different
<br />nurse, he asked for a mask and the question was “Do you work for the County?” He then said to the nurse he was
<br />getting sick and tired of this, told to her look at the picture on the wall, then tell him if he works for the County
<br />because no, he does not work for the County, he works on behalf of the County. The same comment was made “Well
<br />you're not dressed.” How is he supposed to dress? Somehow we have got to figure out how do we internally within
<br />New Hanover County government and the Sheriff's Department address the implicit bias that we all have. When the
<br />first incident happened, he asked the County Manager if the Health Department is going to be involved in screening
<br />individuals for our drive-through testing, to make sure that they treat people who look like him in the same way they
<br />treat other people. Then he gets a call from Frankie Roberts with LINC, letting him know that he sent one of his
<br />employees by with some folks who just got out of being incarcerated to get their COVID-19 test done. They were
<br />asked a series of questions and were told “Well you do not qualify”. The next day Mr. Roberts sent another employee
<br />who looked a little bit different, but it was amazing everyone got tested that day. So he asks the question, how do
<br />we get past the implicit biases that we have? And as a person of color, he is not going to stand for it anymore. His
<br />heart goes out to Mr. Floyd, his family, and to all those that are grieving in our community, to the young man who
<br />was accosted by a former New Hanover County Sheriff's Deputy in Pender County for no other reason than this man
<br />was looking for someone and to think that you have the ability to walk in someone's home and demand entrance.
<br />Those are the things that happened to people that look like him back in the old days when law enforcement would
<br />come and pull you out of your house, take you where they wanted to take you, and do what they wanted to do. Not
<br />that long ago, his dad endured some of those things, so it cuts deep. Commissioner Barfield concluded his remarks
<br />stating to our County Manager and our Sheriff, we better get a grip on this thing.