Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton is reminding Occupy Chapel Hill members to obey the law when they protest a local condominium board’s decision to remove a nonprofit serving area Latinos and Burmese immigrants.
“Just a quick reminder that the Abbey Court Condominium is private property,” Chilton said in a memo sent to Occupy members. “The Town Commons, Jones Ferry Road and the other streets and sidewalks adjacent are public spaces where anyone is welcome to conduct a march/protest. The Carrboro Police Department will be on hand to deal with traffic issues only.”
The homeowners association board voted 2-1 this week to give the Chapel Hill and Carrboro Human Rights Center until March 1 to find a new home. The board said the nonprofit, which runs an after-school program and offers other services, was violating its rules by operating programs in a residential setting.
Occupy Chapel Hill has a small encampment outside the Franklin Street post office and plans a 3:30 p.m. march on the Jones Ferry Road complex this afternoon. A march last month against the Nov. 13 police raid to remove occupiers of the old Yates Motor Co. building drew more than 100 people and briefly blocked traffic.
“It seems likely that if protesters cross on to Abbey Court's property that Abbey Court management will ask to have trespassers removed from their property,” Chilton said in his email. “If that happens, then as government officials we have a sworn duty to uphold North Carolina law. In that event, I promise you the Carrboro Police will respond in as calm and measured a way as possible. I want both protesters and police officers to be non-violent.”
Chilton, who supports the goals of the Occupy movement, reminded members that police “are a part of the 99% too.”
“Please bear in mind that when they carry out their job, they are only trying to feed, clothe and house their families, just like the rest of us. I guarantee that many of Carrboro's police officers share our concerns about how Abbey Court (or the whole world for that matter) is run, but that doesn't mean they can violate their sworn oath to uphold the law.”