Politics & Government

TriPol: Wake school board member says he could have been like Eric Garner

Sutton
Sutton WCPSS

Wake County school board member Keith Sutton has likened his near-arrest at a board meeting to what happened to Eric Garner, who died in July after being placed in a chokehold by a New York City police officer.

During a 2010 protest of the school board’s efforts to end busing for diversity, Sutton was nearly arrested when he waded into the crowd in what he said was an attempt to defuse the situation. Sutton, who wore a #BlackLivesMatter shirt at Tuesday’s meeting, said the board can learn from the nationwide protests of the criminal justice system’s handling of police killings of unarmed black men such as Garner.

“I often wonder had I reacted differently, had I reacted in a manner that displayed how upset I really was, would my life not have been different?” Sutton said. “And if that arrest hold hadn’t gone to a improperly applied chokehold.”

Sutton said that the protesters “are talking to us – my fellow elected officials.” He added that they must work harder to close the academic achievement gap because “young lives matter.”

Sutton’s comments drew charges from the Wake Citizens Coalition, a conservative group, that he “has used a national issue to denigrate our local law enforcement, suggesting they could have used deadly force to constrain him.”

Square’s unlit lights explained

Visitors to Nash Square in downtown Raleigh may notice that many of the park’s trees are hung with large lights. On Tuesday, one curious Twitter user decided to find out why.

“Why are they never on?” user @ashtonmae asked the city of Raleigh. Council members Bonner Gaylord and Mary-Ann Baldwin promised an answer, which arrived Thursday.

As @RaleighGov explained, the city installed the lights 15 years ago, with some help from The News & Observer’s longtime owners.

Frank Daniels Jr. and his wife, Julia, put $100,000 toward the project, while the city kicked in $50,000 for the set of 108 lights, according to articles from The N&O. The project cost $200,000; the articles don’t make clear where the rest of the money came from.

Fifteen years later, the treetops are dark, but the topic again has seen the light of day. A repair or replacement would cost between $80,000 and $100,000, the city tweeted.

Well, maybe it’s time to start a fundraiser, @ashtonmae suggested.

Durham backs native daughter

The Durham City Council has gone on the record, with a 467-word resolution, supporting President Barack Obama’s nomination of former Durham resident Loretta Lynch to be the next U.S. attorney general.

Lynch grew up in Durham, and her parents, Lorenzo and Lorine Lynch, still live in the city.

“This is really unique. It’s an honor,” Mayor Bill Bell said. “By honoring Ms. Lynch you also honor the city of Durham.

“More important you honor her parents, who, without them, she wouldn’t be receiving this,” he said.

Lynch’s father, Lorenzo Lynch, was on hand for the presentation and vote honoring his daughter.

“She’s headed for a tough place,” he said, “and we hope she’s going to hold up and do well.”

Compiled by Andrew Kenney, T. Keung Hui and Jim Wise.

Got a tip, item or coming event? Fax Triangle Politics at 919-829-4529, or send e-mail to metroeds@newsobserver.com. Send items by noon Thursday.

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