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« Radioactive | Main | Election »

Feb 26, 2008

Comments

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Dave Ribar

Oy vey!

The pastors have put the city in an impossible situation. Chief Bellamy & Mitch Johnson are right that this needs to be investigated as a criminal matter (though there are probably statute of limitations issues). One officer has been implicated, but he would be well-advised to take the fifth. Beyond that, there isn't anything for the police to go on. So you have a terrible charge thrown into the public arena and no ability to investigate it.

One possibility is to offer the named officer immunity and take things from there, but it's hard to imagine that that would sit well with all sides in this.

Oy.

Bubba

"Candor requires us to share that we have much more information from the Source than we have shared, some with civil and criminal legal implications."

"The recent turn of events, including the request to fire the City Manager, has compelled us to share the above information in the interest of justice. We recall that newly elected City Council Member Mary Rakestraw campaigned on the basis of exonerating former Police Chief David Wray. Her principal tactic has been to attack City Manager Johnson for allegedly inappropriately handling charges growing out of former Police Chief David Wray’s administration, for which two police officers have been criminally indicted and for which over 30 officers have brought civil suits."

Yeah, right.

Where's evidence of the "request"?

Where's the evidence that the destruction of the files was anything other than a standard procedure, and in accordance with proscribed law?

Otherwise it's just more of the SSDD, nothing but the latest attempt at pushback from the Deniers/Enablers and the power broker cabal that runs things around here.

Stormy

A couple of questions for you to ponder:

According to the North Carolina MUNICIPAL RECORDS RETENTION AND DISPOSITION SCHEDULE, record retention for municipal police departments are as follows:

CASE RECORDS FILE. Records of cases investigated by police personnel. (Comply with provisions of
G.S. 132-1.4 regarding confidentiality of criminal investigation records.)

DISPOSITION INSTRUCTIONS:
a) Felonies - Destroy in office after 20 years.
b) Misdemeanors, investigations, noncriminal, missing persons, etc. - Destroy in office
after 5 years.

So, wouldn't it be within the GPD's authority to order destruction of such files for an event that occurred in 1979?

Also, the black ministers' statement state that "The Source then stated that several of the police officers took approximately 50 boxes of files and threw them in a dumpster." Doesn't it seem strange that hyper sensitive documents such as this would have been thrown in a dumpster? The North Carolina MUNICIPAL RECORDS RETENTION AND DISPOSITION SCHEDULE specifies how documents should be destroyed, as follows:

METHODS OF DESTRUCTION. Local government records provide documentation of
the actions and processes of government at its most direct level. These records should
remain in the custody and control of the agency that created them or received them
pursuant to law until such time as they are eligible for disposition. When authorized by an
approved records retention and disposition schedule, records should be destroyed in one of
the following ways:
a) burned;
b) shredded or torn up so as to destroy the record content of the documents or
materials concerned;
c) placed in acid vats so as to reduce the paper to pulp and to terminate the existence
of the documents or materials concerned;
d) buried under such conditions that the record nature of the documents or materials
will be terminated; or
e) sold as waste paper, provided that the purchaser agrees in writing that the
documents or materials concerned will not be resold as documents or records.

So, if this actually happened, why throw the documents into a dumpster, where they could have been found and confiscated by unauthorized individuals?

This whole scenario seems rather strange. Let's face it, st this point, they only have the unnamed Source's testimony that it happened.

Jeffrey Sykes

*There is a very limited context for a discussion of honesty, depth and integrity in Greensboro.*

Well integrity would first require Nelson Johnson to remove himself from the discussion.

How long has he been milkin' that cow?

Beau D. Jackson

We have shared this information and our perspective in some detail with love, humility and hope. Love, because we believe that love is the only force that can ultimately cultivate understanding, engender forgiveness, and heal the denied brokenness in our city.

Humility, because we believe humility acknowledges a certain point of view while being open to see other points of view that might correct and/or enrich one’s own point of view. We are not so stuck in our point of view that we will be blind to other points of view.

Hope, because we remain hopeful that our white brothers and sisters, in particular, will step forward to help our city work through the current crisis without another wrenching experience of confusion, disguised racism and denied racial division and hatred. Ms. Rakestraw needs your help; communicate with her. We all need each other in order to make progress towards a truly just, multi-racial society, from which we will all benefit.


This is pure unadulterated horse crap. It's quite apparent this matter has been brought to the forefront because "the heat is on" from the City Council, and most notable council woman Rakeshaw! Seems the old CWP folks are worried that they might loose some control of Greensboro City government, namely MJ's office, and need to throw some fuel, if you can call it that, on the fire. I don't find it to be unusual that after 30 years files might be destroyed, and I'm sure it would be quite easy to discover whom gave the original order to destroy the files not that it's of any great importance. I find no smoking gun here but rather a "mouse that roared."

Bubba

And of course, the "Wray the Racist" meme gets re-played for (at least) the third time......

Unbelievable!

Kyle Lambelet

Isn't it curious, given that the statute allows the destruction of case files after 20 years, that the GPD waited until 26 years after the event to destroy the documents (and only after they were requested by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission).

Additionally, if this is simply standard procedure to destroy files, why did Chief Bellamy refuse to approach Sergeant McMinn based on the fact that the destruction of the files would be treated as a criminal matter?

Stormy

Dave,

I believe that GPD could, in fact, grant Sgt. McMinn immunity and require him to testify under the Garrity Rule. Under that rule he is compelled to testify in exchange for his immunity. Of course, the ministers are suggesting that Sgt. McMinn was just at the bottom of the food chain, and he could only identify the person that gave him the order. In that manner, they would have to work themselves up the ladder using Garrity to get to the ultimate prize of Wray, if this is what happened as described by the Source. Even better would be for the ministers to identify the Source, and GPD could give him immunity under Garrity to testify.

As I stated above, it appears that these records were subject to legal destruction under the state retention schedule. I'd still like to know why they were "dumped into a dumpster" instead of being disposed in a proper manner.

Bubba

And look at the hollow threat:

"In spite of our reluctance to use the courts, the courts are increasingly emerging as a place for Greensboro to try to air these disputes and to seek enough truth for the city to advance toward a measure of restorative justice, In spite of our reluctance to use the courts, the courts are increasingly emerging as a place for Greensboro to try to air these disputes and to seek enough truth for the city to advance toward a measure of restorative justice, In spite of our reluctance to use the courts, the courts are increasingly emerging as a place for Greensboro to try to air these disputes and to seek enough truth for the city to advance toward a measure of restorative justice, to reconcile, heal and move forward more holistically."

Too funny!

The LAST thing this group wants to do is "to reconcile, heal and move forward more holistically."

They would soon be out the victimization business if that actually happened.

Jeffrey Sykes

*If Greensboro police officers destroyed files pertaining to the 1979 Klan/Nazi killings after the department received a request for those files from the TRC, it's a big deal.*

Did the TRC have any controlling legal authority? If so, yes it is troubling. Why not restart the process from scratch? 8-)

Anthony

At the rate the city has responded to Wray-related document requests by Roch, Joe, and Sam, it may be five years before we see all the documents they're asking for. How would everyone feel if the city starts destroying those documents after five years, before they're all released, as would be their apparent right under standard procedure?

I agree with Stormy - the dumpster angle sounds a bit suspect.

Bubba

More little gems from the statement:

"There is a very limited context for a discussion of honesty, depth and integrity in Greensboro."

Indeed.

Who set the stage for THAT condition?

"The atmosphere here has been so poisoned that a conversation is trapped by these toxins before it can yield meaningful fruit."


See my first comment above.

"....used to further fuel old prejudices and/or reinforce and justify distorted and false positions."

That's a good assessment of what you've done.

Roch101

Excellent point, Anthony. Destroying records to avoid having them viewed by the public is never a good thing, even if within the bounds of the law.

David Hoggard

Jeffrey, I agree with you. Johnson ought to excuse himself because of his status as a lightning rod. That way maybe we can exclude discussions of personalities and focus on the particulars of the matter... which are compelling.

During the news conference, Rev. Brown expounded on this part of the prepared statement, which will be lost on many hereabouts: "We are not so stuck in our point of view that we will be blind to other points of view."

He was very candid to suggest that there might be very plausible reasons for destroying those records. He is depending on the media to help uncover the truth of the matter.

Ribar is right. These allegations put the city in an almost untenable position.

Stormy asks, "So, wouldn't it be within the GPD's authority to order destruction of such files for an event that occurred in 1979?" Sure it would. But timing is everything here. Could be that it was innocently coincidental to the gathering of information for the upcoming TRC process, but the timing at least has the smell of some fishiness.

Also, Stormy, you have quoted how documents are SUPPOSED to be LEGALLY destroyed. Does it not strike you as queer that legal protocals for getting rid of those documents were not followed?

Tony Wilkins

*If Greensboro police officers destroyed files pertaining to the 1979 Klan/Nazi killings after the department received a request for those files from the TRC, it's a big deal.*

Ed, please explain in laymen's term what you mean by "big deal". The TRC had no more legal authority than anyone on the street to ask for any files. Any cooperation on the GPD's part was strictly voluntary.
And why, Ed, do you think this is only coming out now? You can't actually think documents inside those boxes had not been seen in 30 years. Why do you think the officer went to the pastor's instead of authorities?

Stormy

Do we know:

1. That there were actually 50 boxes of SID files relating to the 1979 event that were kept separately from other GPD files on the event?

2. If these files existed in SID for over 20 years why did no one in previous administrations question why they were there?

3. Who were the other four officers that participate in dumping the files into the dumpster? Shouldn't they be identified and interviewed, giving them immunity also, if necessary?

4. Do the ministers have a record of their request for these public records? If this request was made 3-4 years ago, what efforts did they make to obtain these records? Did they not make any efforts until 2-3 years later when the Source tipped them off about file being destroyed?

5. Who is the Source, and how, and from whom, did s(he) find out about the destruction of the files? Why has the Source not been identified, if these are accurate allegations? Shouldn't Bellamy and Johnson be allowed to interview the Source before beginning a purge of GPD?

6. Why would David Wray order the destruction of such records for an event that happened in 1979? What did he have to lose if the records were made public? Wouldn't others have more to lose that were city officials at the time? David Wray didn't join GPD as a patrolman until 1981.

Stormy

Hogg,

It absolutely strikes me as queer that legal protocols were not followed in the destruction of the records. That's my whole point. If you were eager to destroy sensitive records that someone wanted, why would you throw them in a dumpster where anyone could find them? I would think that burning them or shredding them would have been a safer and surer method of concealing them forever from public view. If Wray and his henchmen are so evil, are they also idiots? Would it be unreasonable to think that someone outside of government didn't know that there were prescribed legal file retention and methods of destroying files? That one issue creates a big credibility issue in my mind about this whole affair.

By the way, David, did Mitch share this information with you when you had your little chat a few weeks ago to convince you that Wray and his pals are racists? Was it JM that called you and told you not to discuss it publicly? Wasn't he mayor in 1979?

Outdated

Does it strike anyone as unusual, that in the command structure of the GPD, that a sergeant would have the authority to make a decision to destroy sensitive documents?

Ed Cone

Tony, if the GPD secretly destroyed files pertaining to such a high-profile historical case, it would be a notable event in and of itself.

To allegedly do so after retaining them for many years past the required date, and then only when asked for them, would seem a curious coincidence.

It's not a matter of a group having subpoena power, or (only) of the legal implications of the alleged records destruction.

You all are free to chase any rabbit you want. I'm focused on some simple questions at this point: were these records destroyed? If so, who ordered their destruction, and why? What was in the boxes?

There was an interesting discussion at the press conference about going where the truth takes you, whether it's where you want to go or not.

There's a lot of shouting going on, but very little of it is about the core narrative the pastors invited the press to investigate.

Seems like a good first step might be to ascertain the truth, or lack of it, in the allegations.

Billy The Blogging Poet

This whole thing is... I don't know how to describe it. I went to the press conference, sat in the front row, asked what I thought were intelligent questions, paid attention and came out knowing less than I knew going into the meeting.

What's up with that?

Roch101

Did the pastors get snowed or what?

The Chief tells them that he wants to treat this as a criminal matter but without more information, the investigation will likely stall. Ah, what a shame. But if the Chief wanted to compel those involved to tell what they know, he can. They won't be able to be charged based on what they reveal, but the truth would come to light -- if that were, you know, important.

David Hoggard

No, Stormy, the first I heard of this was through yesterday's announcement. And, no, Mitch Johnson never tried to convince me that "Wray and his pals are racists" because they are not. And, yeah, if by JM you mean Jim Melvin, sure he calls me all the time. We talk about baseball stadiums mostly.

I'm just looking at the disposal method issue from a different angle. The Seargent had recently been trained in document handling by the state (Ben H.'s information) and knew of the proper disposal methods. The allegation is that he did not follow them. That allegation might prove unfounded, let's wait and see.

Jeffrey Sykes

*There's a lot of shouting going on, but very little of it is about the core narrative the pastors invited the press to investigate.*

Seems to me Nelson Johnson has been shouting since, oh, about Nov. 2 1979.

And people who lack the integrity to take a stand empower him to this day.

I got something for you all.

An active duty Greensboro Police officer told me that Nelson Johnson was a communist and advocated physical violence against a set of ignorant people who liked to employ violence as a tactic in confronting people they looked down on. I heard five people got killed almost 30 years ago because Nelson Johnson shouted really loud for everybody to hear.

Can you find out if that is true?

Ed Cone

You all are free to chase any rabbit you want. I'm focused on some simple questions at this point: were these records destroyed? If so, who ordered their destruction, and why? What was in the boxes?

Stormy

Ed, since you are keeping it simple, please explain how it is that the key player in this play is Craig McMinn, aka The White Shadow, and a close friend of James Hinson, Julius Filmore, and other characters we have seen in Jerry Bledsoe's series? How is it that he is the only person named here and he is close with some of the suspects in this drama?

I thought that the name Craig McMinn sounded familiar. From Jerry Bledsoe's series 3/22/07, Part 27:

"Williamson reported the call he had received about the Game Time Lounge to his superiors. Records show that because the informant had named a police officer as protecting the club, Williamson was instructed to report that information to Craig McMinn, who at that time was the sergeant in Special Intelligence."

"McMinn, who is white, had attended Lt. James Hinson's bachelor's party, where strippers and officers openly committed sexual acts, although McMinn was reported to have left soon after the strippers arrived. Two of the dancers at the party had referred to him as "the white shadow." Det. Scott Sanders, who was investigating Hinson's bachelor's party, had been attempting to identify the white shadow, but McMinn, who was Sanders immediate supervisor, had not made his presence at the party known."

This guy is a credible source? His name keeps coming up in several of the Bledoe stories.

Brian Clarey

Tony:
"The TRC had no more legal authority than anyone on the street to ask for any files. Any cooperation on the GPD's part was strictly voluntary."

Anyone on the street can ask for files. They are public property. Any cooperation on the GPD's part is *mandatory*. Unless, you know, personnel issues are involved.

Ed Cone

Here's the sum total of what I can explain at this point, Stormy: allegations have been made that I think are worth checking out.

Tony Wilkins

Brian, I haven't heard anyone confirm the boxes in question were public records.
Of course you are correct on public records. Strike "strictly voluntary" if you are only discussing public records. I must have thought that would be assumed.

Dave Ribar

Ed:

Right now, all there is is an unsubstantiated accusation by a "source" who is unwilling to be revealed. With respect to your question, we don't even know that there were any records that were destroyed.

If the lack of an identifiable source wasn't enough, the pastors further undercut their credibility by using the announcement to first go after Florence Gatten and Mary Rakestraw and then to say that it is the responsibility of one racial group to step forward.

The city now has a responsibility to investigate to the best of its ability (we don't know that this isn't happening or hasn't happened already). However, the city's reaction to these allegations, as described by the pastors, seems completely appropriate to date.

Beau D. Jackson

It seems to me that the CWP reverands are attempting to manufacture an incident of little significant value, and it's quite apparent that the CWP reverands are VERY unhappy with Mary Rakestraw. No smoking gun here just a lot of useless hot air designed to intimidate and perpetuate a myth! Isn't being a reverand and a communist at the same time an oxymoron.

Ed Cone

Hence my first question, Dave: were these records destroyed?

I agree that venturing into the realms of sociology and politics was not necessary, and said so in my post. It seems likely to divert attention from the core questions about the records, and certainly people seem eager to discuss almost anything but those questions.

As I've said, you all are free to chase any rabbit you want. I'm focused on some simple questions at this point: were these records destroyed? If so, who ordered their destruction, and why? What was in the boxes?

jwg

If the boxes were "thrown into a dumpster" then it may be quite likely that the boxes and their contents were taken to a landfill. If that's the case, then they likely still exist, intact. My understanding is that it takes paper a long time to decompose in a landfill (absent moisture). Now it's just a matter of digging them up.

If they "have much more information from the Source than we have shared, some with civil and criminal legal implications" and cannot trust city government or police, shouldn't they present that evidence to the SBI/FBI?

Bubba

".......allegations have been made that I think are worth checking out."

So if someone has a vested interest in causing an issue for you says that Ed Cone is a child molester, based on hearsay testimony from an unnamed and possibly complicit source, that allegation deserves to be checked out?

David Hoggard

"...shouldn't they present that evidence to the SBI/FBI?". I'd say yes, John.

Steve Flynn

50 boxes?!

First and foremost let's figure out if it's anywhere near that. 50 boxes? It strains credulity that these boxes sat 26 years alone, unlogged, and uncopied somewhere given the profile of this case (FBI? SBI?). Maybe 50 files or something could be argued . . . 50 boxes, with multiple confirmed witnesses? Jeez, let's investigate.

N&R? Are you gonna get ahead of this or let the local free weekly's or blogospherians get to the bottom of this?

Margaret Banks

Didn't go to the press conference (City Council met this morning). Jason Hardin attended. But I helped a little by calling former D.A. Mike Schlosser. He said the police department turned over all its material to the D.A.'s office before the trials. He said "there's no question in my mind" he received all the evidence.

Is anyone alleging the 50 boxes contained information that had never seen the light of day before? I wonder whether the information exists somewhere else. Liz Wheaton must have requested thousands of documents for her book. Then there were the trials. Guess that's the problem with not knowing what was in those alleged boxes.

Fred Gregory

Thank you Margaret. Good move.

So there you have it Mitch lovers. No big deal !!

Jim Rosenberg

Like others before it in Greensboro, there is so much space in this story between the facts and the fury of the protagonists. Like the Wray fray itself, this feels like a race war being fought by proxy from both sides. The more you pay attention to the arguments, the farther you get from the core truth that this is a culture that perpetuates conflict. I've decided the only sane thing to do is disengage from the front lines so as not to provide fuel for the fire. Let the investigations take their course.

Spag

"You all are free to chase any rabbit you want. I'm focused on some simple questions at this point: were these records destroyed? If so, who ordered their destruction, and why? What was in the boxes?"

Ed is right.

I do strongly suspect however that this whole news conference/story will turn out to be a deliberately loosed rabbit for people to chase. Once again we are being asked to believe something is true just because someone said it was without any evidence.

The timing is highly suspect and this is being brought to you by the same people who brought you the "black book" of racist profiling that has turned out to be false.

There is a group of influential people in Greensboro who have a vested interest in maintaining an aura of imbedded racism alive. When one theory doesn't pan out, they gin up something else.

The question that Ed asks should have already been answered by now. Instead I fear we will be treated to another few months of truth being mixed with fiction as the mere accusation itself becomes entrenched in the minds of many as fact.

Billy The Blogging Poet

"blogospherians"

Hey, I like that term. ;-)

Tony Wilkins

Margaret,
Got any inside scoop if this is what the city manager shared with council in closed chambers?
Have you seen any e-mail documents that might confirm he showed this as "not very favorable to David Wray"?

Sports. hhmmph. You'll be baacckk.

Margaret Banks

That's a really good point, Tony. I hadn't made that connection yet. I'll ask around.

My new motto: In sports, no one can hear you scream.

Elizabeth Wheaton

Unfortunately, Margaret, I wasn't able to get access to files through any law enforcement agencies due to the ongoing litigation during the research phase of G'kil. I was able to look through many of those files in possession of the Greensboro Justice Fund at the time, and then got much more information from the two federal trials I covered.

Implied in yesterday's news conference is the suspicion that the mystery files involved the investigation of the shootings themselves and that they were destroyed to keep the TRC from finding some nugget of information that would prove direct police/federal involvement in the killings. But the trio of reverends didn't make that charge, and I would think they'd have made no bones about it if that were the case.

I suspect that, given that said files were in the possession of Special Investigations, they consisted of post-Nov. 3 records of police surveillance of the CWP. I'm not sure what if any difference that would make concerning the legality of their destruction.

I wonder who was the Big Cheese in Spec. Inv. during the time in question. I wonder why the SOURCE would blab to a host of reverends on more than one occasion but get shy when it comes to going public.

I wonder why I keep asking these questions when I know Jim's got the right idea. "The only sane thing to do..." Sigh.

Kyle Lambelet

Mayor Keith Holliday, City Manager Mitch Johnson, and Police Chief Tim Bellamy were all informed in October that that these 50 boxes were thrown away and were told then that Sgt. Craig McMinn gave the order. The ministers said yesterday that their source, an active duty police officer, suggested that Sgt. McMinn would not lie if asked whether he gave the order but would tell the truth.

My question is: why has no one asked McMinn?!?

He can respond and say “its true, I gave the order,” or “its false, there were no 50 boxes destroyed,” or plead the fifth. The GPD can invoke the Garrity Rule and he can testify with immunity.

This, for me, is the one central, over-riding question: why not ask Craig McMinn?

Curses, foiled again

Ben Holder is the man:

"The allegation that during 2004 or 2005 Craig McMinn, a Sergeant in the GPD, ordered the destruction of files about Nov. 3, 1979, shortly after the GTRC requested them has been proven false."

Ed Cone

If by "proven false" you mean "had a detail called into question," sure.

jc

Ed, you posted a comment from a council member that said they had heard "unfavorable" comments about Wray at the infamous save Mitch meeting. SAG posted something along the same lines.

I think you owe it to your readers to try to confirm or deny that the rumor being spread by these ministers is what council heard from Mitch that fateful day.

I truly hope that this isnt the case because it would seem highly unfair for Wray to be smeared again by a rumor these race baiting reverends brought to mitch and holiday and then repeated to the council and they in turn post on yours and other blogs as gospel.

Ed Cone

What I actually posted was that a council member told me that material viewed in closed session provided "overwhelming" evidence that Wray needed to go.

I'll ask if this uncomfirmed allegation was part of that information.

As far as the pastors' story being posted on blogs as Gospel, I don't recall the prominent use of the word "if" and direct questions about the central event actually occurring in any of my translations of the New Testament.

Ed Cone

City Council member, asked if the alleged file destruction was discussed in the recent closed session discussion of the Wray fray: "Unequivocally, no."

This member heard about it for the first time the night before the press conference.

jc

Ed, thanks for clearing that up.

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