Greensboro City Council discusses peace festivals, hate speech

Jayce Shore
 Staff Writer

On October 18, 2016, the Greensboro City Council convened to discuss resolutions on solidarity and hate speech in Greensboro.

The session began with a resolution to recognize the 150th year anniversary of Saint Matthews United Methodist Church in Warnersville. The church has the distinction of being the oldest and largest African-American church in the Western North Carolina Conference. The church was originally built in 1866 and has undergone several renovations in its many years as a religious institution.

Item three on the agenda was a resolution condemning violence and hate speech and expressing solidarity with Muslims and peoples of other races, ethnicities and religions.

Marikay Abuzuaiter of the council explained the story of how the resolution came to be. Wasif Qureshi represented the Muslim community and Adamou Mohamed represented the city of Greensboro’s International Advisory Committee as the head chair.

“About two and a half years ago, the mosque in Greensboro received a letter from a business in Greensboro, asking that Muslims no longer come to their establishment,” Abuzuaiter said. “This is something that tore through the fabric of what Greensboro is about… Greensboro has passed resolutions that we welcome every ethnicity, religion, background, we do this in order to make Greensboro a thriving, welcoming place where everyone in the community can work, live and play without any form of discrimination.”  

A peace festival at the Civil Rights Museum took place in September 2015 and was attended by people of every ethnicity, race and religion. Solidarity was shown towards those discriminated against. Another peace festival took place in September, with lesser turn-out due to rain earlier that day, though many faiths were still in attendance.

“We want to ensure that all of those living in Greensboro can continue to live as such and that no one will be discriminated for the color of their skin,” Abuzuaiter said. “for what they wear and for how they conduct themselves in their normal work every day.”

The resolution was moved by co-writer Jamal Fox and seconded by Abuzuaiter. Tony Wilkins of District 5 supported the resolution with the exception of the fifth paragraph, which implied that an elected official had been using hateful rhetoric to gain power. Wilkins asked for this to be reflected in the minutes after his support has been verified.

The resolution was passed unanimously after a brief conflict between Fox and Wilkins, about the aforementioned paragraph five and an unnamed elected official involved. The unnamed official was not revealed, but Wilkins assumed it was a specific enough allegation worth following through.

Tom Carruthers, city attorney and document co-sponsor, refused to release the name of the official and responded that he did not find the allegation specific enough if it did not provide a name.

“It identifies a class of individuals but not the name of the individuals,” replied Carruthers on the subject when pushed further.

The next city council meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 1 at 5:30 p.m. in the Melvin Municipal Office Building’s Council Chamber, and is open to the public.

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