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« Reconciliation | Main | Reregulation »

Jun 17, 2009


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Zack, Joe and Tony will regret regretting the regret. No healing will come until those 3 put on the appropriate sackcloth and fill out the customary apology form, which everyone on both sides of the institutional divide must do now.

Jeffrey Sykes

Did they regret issuing the permit to communist agitators so they could hold a "Death" rally in a public housing project?


I think Zack may eventually regret that statement. Sometimes moving on means acknowledging the past. In fact, moving on becomes much more difficult when you don't acknowledge the past. Politically motivated or not, what Robbie said (I caught most of it on Ch. 13)was what was needed. I feel like the 4 would not have voting against the details of the resolution rather than what was intended. The wordsmithing was painful to watch and an unncessary diversion, imo.

Ed Cone

The apparent lack of concern for the neighbors, by the rally organizers and the cops, was certainly regrettable.

As the late Claudette Burroughs-White once said, if that rally had somehow been permitted for Irving Park, there would have been cops shoulder to shoulder up Country Club Drive.

I do not regret the part about acknowledging the free speech and assembly rights of people with unpopular political views, communist or otherwise.


correction "the 4 were voting against the details of the resolution"


My favorite part was Counselor-councillor Barber's fake hand wringing over regret-based liability. What a tool.

Jeffrey Sykes

@Ed:"I do not regret the part about acknowledging the free speech and assembly rights of people with unpopular political views, communist or otherwise. "

I agree with you there, but wouldn't Johnson, et al's, rhetoric be considered hate speech today?


I was disappointed in Matheny's remarks. (He's my district rep.)

His remarks were small-minded and lacking in empathy. What I found particularly strange though was his turning to former Mayor Keith Holliday as a touchstone for Matheny's objection to accepting the report of the Human Relations Commissions. Leaving aside the question of whether Holliday was ever an inspiring leader on anything, Matheny's selective use of Holliday quotations ignored the reality that Holliday's views towards the Truth and Reconciliation process moderated away from his initial repudiation to an eventual participation and recognition of its possible benefits. It was bizarre, watching Matheny use a broken recollection of history to argue against acknowledging history.


Matheny's response though is also indicative of the trouble younger generations (of which I am part) have with understanding a past which we were not a part of. Awkwardly enough, this should have put him in a relatively unbiased role for which he could have advocated for moving forward by acknowledging this event. The liability discussion was a ruse and minimized and took away from the significance of the actual passing of the resolution. Terry Wood made the point that it was akin to signing a waiver form - it has no real bearing except to send a message to people that their support for the resolution is truly half-ass.

Ed Cone

Zack doesn't seem to understand that reconciling ourselves with the past is a success in itself, and a way of moving on.


i don't like adding insult, injury and death to the inductive fallacy in Burroughs-White statement; but, if the residents of Irving Park would have staged such a rally against such a group of rattlesnakes with a history of encroachment, after they had poked the rattlesnakes with sticks, they would have hired consultants and their own security, who didn't take lunch. The police and city staff were doing what they are designed to do, protect them from us and keep the conflict confined to an area where only them are the targets and victims. The greater regret is that the victims may have offered more potential to the planet than the group they antagonized from China Grove. The convictions of both sides were so strong, the potential casualties were never an issue. We like to tinker with the machinery that maims and kills us, but we never consider just putting it down, for good.

Fec the Terrible

It was a political no-brainer; an open book pop quiz designed to elevate everybody's GPA. Knee-jerking is not a valuable skill.

John D. Young

I understand that the Human Relations Commission had previously tried to find ways forward in response to the TRC Report without much success, however, their report last night seemed to be worth the wait. In their presentation to the city council they emphasized the importance of not only the TRC Report but some previous efforts like the Citizens Review Committee Report and the Human Relations Commission Report both from 1980. By reading all three of these reports one can get a fairly balanced understanding of the events of Nov. 3rd.

Many have wondered over the years what would have happened back in 1980 if the Greensboro City Council had issued a statement of regret like the one they approved last night. Anyway now for many reasons and perhaps most of all the softening of 30 years a statement of regret has been approved.


Ed, a question: "What now?"

What does the official expression of regret mean? What was being regretted? The deaths? The hate? The unbeliveable ignorance and naivete the CWP demonstrated by provoking the Klan and Nazis into a "Death To The Klan" rally? The even more unbelievable ignorance and stupidity of the Klan and Nazis in general? The fact that the CWP chose to victimize one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in Greensboro and put everyone at risk by holding the rally at Morningside? That the police totally dropped the ball regarding security? The the CWP got the whole ball rolling a week earlier by attacking the Klan in China Grove?

Okay, so we regret it. All of it. Will that make everyone happy?

The answer of course, is no. After regret,as any good Catholic knows, comes guilt, shame, confession and pennance.

We're just getting started.


But John, it wasn't just "okay, so we regret it." In the rest of it you will find the answer to what next:

"We, the city council of Greensboro, North Carolina value the rich diversity of our neighborhoods, celebrate both our similarities and differences as human beings, and pledge its support to the extent of its ability and authority to ensure that nothing like the events of November 3, 1979 ever happen again."

For a city to pledge its support to ensure that a gun battle between enemies drawn along racial lines doesn't erupt in its streets again sounds okay to me. I guess those who object would like the city to not get in the way of another such confrontation.


Roch do we really need an official declaration from the City Council to "ensure that nothing like the events of November 3, 1979 ever happen again?"

I recall a Klan rally back in the 80's in downtown Greensboro. The police outnumbered the coneheads by 3 to 1, minimum.

Should some bizzare confluence of events ever bring together a group of avowed communists, a gaggle of inbred Klansmen and a drooling mob of Nazis in an impoverished black neighborhood in our fair city, I promise you that security will be tighter than Lindsay Lohan on a rehab-skipping bender.


Do we "need" it to ensure that something like that doesn't happen again? Obviously, you don't think so. Do we need it to assure some people that the city is committed to making sure that it doesn't happen again? Some think so. If it's no skin off your nose but is significant for others, what's the beef?

Ed Cone

Reconciliation is a process, not an event.

Having the official voice of the city where the killings took place -- the city that paid a settlement in a civil case, the city that pretended the whole thing didn't really involve us - having that voice say, we regret that it all happened, well, that's part of the process.

Seems pretty simple to me. I don't really get the anger and opposition.

Steve Harrison

"Dropped the ball"? :)

Lord have mercy. That's like saying Mike Tyson lovingly nibbled on Evander's ear.

Ed Cone

Well, if you're going to get into details, the CWP didn't attack the Klan at China Grove, they confronted them, and it wasn't a week before, either.

But I think John's larger point about the value of a statement of regret is the real question here.

Steve Harrison

The thing is, Ed, if john's understanding of the event in question places the GPD's role as a mere footnote of official blundering or miscalculation, then he is also not going to recognize the merit and value of an official statement of regret.

Tony Wilkins

"and pledge its support to the extent of its ability and authority to ensure that nothing like the events of November 3, 1979 ever happen again."

So tell me jonathan livingston seagullibles, how does a city ensure this? Raise your hand if you thought the city was not using "the extent of its ability and authority to ensure that nothing like" 1979 happens again. Funny I only see four hands out of a city of 255,000. What a relief this motion passed.
If something similar happens did the city just not quite extend it's ability far enough?
...but...but...the council (including that dreamy hunk Robbie P.) said they would.

I pledge my support to the extent of my ability and authority to ensure that anything Nelson Johnson related never come between me and Ed and Roch and Dave again.

Ed Cone


Why did you oppose accepting the HRC report and the statement of regret?


I still cringe when I recall Walter Cronkite refer to Greensboro as "a small mill town in NC". Made us sound like some back water pig path. Looking back, I think Greensboro has a lot to be proud about regarding race relations. I was in public schools when integration started here. It was tense at times, but the students made it work in spite of the parents. I think some of us who lived through the CWP/Klan shootout are just worn out and tired of it all. Hopefully those involved will finally be satisfied and we can move on and focus on the here and now.


I hope Tony will answer Ed's question. It's hard for me not to see these objections as petty spite. After all, Tony, if your point is, as I read it, that the City is already doing what it needs to to keep another event like that of 11/3/79 from occurring again, why would you object to what amounts to simply affirming that out loud? If it is such a meaningless thing to you, but obviously meaningful to other people, why the strenuous revolution? What's it to you? Is it anything other than you really, really, really don't want to see "them" get any satisfaction? Is it anything other than it just sticks in your mean craw?


Sorry, revolution = revulsion above.

Fec the Terrible

All hope abandon ye who enter here. Here be dragons.


Hey Steve,

I'll speak for myself if it's all right with you.

I understand a hell of a lot more than you think about the Klan/Nazi killings. I know the police did more than drop the ball; I phrased it that way in an effort to be concise. The police response was woefully inadequate, bordering on criminal negligence. Many people believed the police merely let two groups duke it out and if folks were killed, no big loss. Given the time and political climant, that's a theory I don't find all that flawed.

And Roch, you're right, it's no skin off my nose about the whole regret thing, if that's all there was to it. You and I both know otherwise; this is just the beginning of more breast-beating, hairshirt-wearing and general finger pointing at mean ol' Mr. Charlie.

I don't buy into collective guilt or identity politics. I will express regret, remorse and empathy from now until the earth cools if we could please, pretty please, with a cherry on top, for God sakes move on.

Ed Cone

I'm confused by the change of tone in John's comment, which acknowledges regrettable lapses (and the possibility of worse) by our police force, but then turns around and sneers at the idea of the Council expressing regret.

And I don't know that we're really in for more of the same -- certainly it's possible that some people will remain unsatisfied, but I'd guess that many others will see this as an act of closure.

Arguing that the statement won't change anything seems premature at best.

Tony Wilkins

The answer to your question should be obvious from my previous posts. My direct answer to you is because of the process involved in the report's conclusion. Why do you think the previous council objected to the study? Because of the process involved.
Where did the money come from to finance the study?
Did they have any subpoena power or legal authority of any kind? Who was the master mind behind the study?
Wouldn't you, I, Dave, Roch, and fec sitting around a table at lunch have the same authority to ask for a resolution of regret that Wyndham was moved from Forest Oaks to Sedgefield?
Of course you pointed out my party affiliation although it had nothing to do with my opinion, as I predicted. I'm surprised you didn't mention that 3 out of 4 (R)'s on the council voted against the resolution and the one (R) that did is (R) in name only.
If you guys think your support of this resolution is so chic, then have at it. Maybe you'll volunteer to pay the upcoming bill for the "regret".


also, thanks to Moderate Mike for being a "tool", and doing his job-protect the city from any future lawsuits. We have enough of those already.

Ed Cone


I don't think it's unusual to mention your official role in local politics when referring to your comments on local politics.

The Council accepted the recommendation of the City HRC, which did not rely exclusively on the TRC report.

As I have discussed in some depth over the years, I had many problems with the TRC process and the TRC report. I criticized the earlier request to Council, which came not from the TRC but from another organization.

But I also saw value in the report and the process, flawed as they were.

I have not seen you offering specific criticisms or rebuttals of the TRC report, just condemning it out of hand, and using that condemnation to dismiss the actions of the Council on Tuesday night.

Your earlier comments dwelt on your disgust with anyone who disagrees with you. Now you seem to be confused about what the Council actually did.

So I'm still puzzled as to your objections to a statement of regret.

Tony Wilkins

EC: "And I don't know that we're really in for more of the same -- certainly it's possible that some people will remain unsatisfied, but I'd guess that many others will see this as an act of closure."

That statement would be laughable except for the fact that you may really believe it.

I love optimists.

Maybe we can hope to hear this at the next council meeting or the next glamorous press conference. Be sure to listen to the lyrics: Nelson Johnson's tribute to the regret resolution. Finally.

Ed Cone


Your case seems to be that nothing will satisfy some people, so our elected officials should have done nothing.

But what our Council did clearly makes at least some of us happy. It satisfied the recommendation of the City HRC. It struck me, a longtime critic of both the Council and the TRC, as reasonable.

Perhaps there will be an ongoing call for further action; after all, it's hard to satisfy everyone. But if enough people think that we've brought some resolution to this part of the story, then those remaining voices will not carry the weight they once did.

You said you opposed the statement of regret because of your issues with the TRC process and report. That dog didn't hunt. You say some people will never give up. That doesn't really strike me as a reason to oppose the statement, either.

I do appreciate you coming back to engage in this conversation, but I'm still having trouble with your explanations. Perhaps we'll have to leave it at that.


Nothing will satisfy Tony Wilkins.

Same coin, different side.

Maybe that's part of the problem?



Admitting the police were negligent in Nov. of '79 during the Klan/Nazi shooting is one thing. Doubting the rationale and the motives behind the expression of regret is another. The two are not mutually exclusive.

John D. Young

There is actually something in the city council's accepted Human Relations Commission's report to support several narratives about Nov. 3rd so the HRC did not support just the TRC version of events, yet somehow the broadness of the HRC report seems to have been ignored.

Again, one of benefits of the HRC report was that they said that important knowledge about Nov. 3rd can be gained from three sources: 1. Citizens Review Committee Report from 1980, 2. Human Relations Commission Report from 1980, and 3. the TRC report. The first two reports are very different from the TRC report.

The HRC report said "In analyzing the events of Nov. 3 and the days following, it is obvious that mistakes were made by some officials in the handling of certain sensitive issues. There is no evidence to indicate that the City officials were not operating in good faith throughout the ordeal with protection of life and property uppermost in their minds." The TRC report on page 244 said of the 1980 HRC report that it "...placed the greatest blame for what happened on the "small band of Communist Worker's Party members and Klansmen." So there is something for most everyone in these three reports.

The CRC report dated May 1980 and the HRC report dated Oct. 1980 did not have the benefit of reviewing the transcripts of the state murder trial that lasted from Aug. 4, 1980 to Nov. 17, 1980. The TRC report all but ignored/rejected the statements provided to the T&R Commission by Judge Long and the defense attorneys. And in its weakest chapter "Injustice in the Justice System" the immense, yet necessary, task of reading most of the state murder trial transcripts never occurred. Judge Long provided access to his fairly complete copy of the transcripts but the TRC researchers did not have the time to carefully read this essential information.

The HRC with a lot of internal struggle tried their best to bring some closure and their statement of regret was necessary to help that effort. I also realize that the battle of the dueling narratives, very tied to our dueling ideologies, will continue.

Ed Cone

JDY: Thanks for that valuable context.

John: So, the City has something to regret, but "the rationale and the motives behind the expression of regret" is suspect.

What rationale, and what motives, are suspect? Who is suspect? The HRC? The Councilmembers? What circumstances would allow for a non-suspect statement?

Margaret Banks

JDY: That's the smartest thing anyone has said on this subject in a long time. There is something to learn - and something to question - about each of the reports. And to take it one more step, there's something to learn, and something to question, during every conversation one has about the Klan/Nazi shootings. There will never be a "common narrative" of events, because we each see things through our own experiences and beliefs (dorky English major types call this the Reader Response theory of literary criticism).

Anyway, you quote the HRC report: "There is no evidence to indicate that the City officials were not operating in good faith throughout the ordeal with protection of life and property uppermost in their minds." I'm assuming you mean this most recent HRC report?? If so, then I agree that that has gotten lost in the whole discussion. It's important, and an opportunity for people with extreme views on the subject to find common ground.

John D. Young

Thanks Margaret! My quote from the HRC report is from the 1980 HRC report. Sorry for the confusion. But since they just recommended carefully reading their own 1980 report I don't think anything has gotten lost.

I do not know if the city council fully understands what they actually accepted from the new broadly based HRC report. I do appreciate the hard work of the HRC to hammer out something of substance and balance. I know a few years ago the HRC could not agree to move forward with any response to the TRC report so their recent response is even more impressive. As we know if you have three people in a discussion over a beer about Nov. 3rd we usually get three different narratives and a little yelling.

I think that over the next few years Judge Long's personal copy (not fully complete but his copy includes all the court room testimony and most of the attorneys' comments) of the state muder trial transcripts will be gifted to the N.C. Archives in Raleigh and reading those will increase our knowledge. I did take the time (many, many hours and days) along with a few others to read most of the transcripts and they are riveting. I was actually very impressed by the transparent nature of Judge Long who himself took careful notes of each days proceedings. His notes are those of a judge trying his best to do the right thing under very difficult circumstances -- especially the CWP refusing to participate in the state murder trial.


JDY, if you're interested in the trial documents UNC already has a large set at the Wilson Library and as I understand it, the TRC made scanned copies of a number of documents that they received from Judge Long (e.g., testimony of the shooters, of Dawson, etc.) and they are now in the TRC's archive at Bennett College.

John D. Young

Confused, my understanding is that a few researchers did scan a few, very selective transcripts of the state murder trial belonging to Judge Long, especially the instructions to the jury. (Some of that is addressed on page 259 of the TRC report.) However, the researchers did not have time to read or scan the vast majority of the transcripts including very valuable trial testimony. I don't think that any transcripts from the state murder trial (first trial) are at the Wilson Library at UNC.

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