The Chapel Hill Police Department’s heavily armed raid on a group of squatters in a vacant building on Franklin Street last Sunday has caught elected leaders’ attenion in neighboring Carrboro.
On his Facebook page and local blog orangepolitics.org this week, Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton posted a 3,000-word essay on the challenges of being committed to non-violence while still being in charge of a police force. Chilton decided last week to send Carrboro police to assist Chapel Hill in case violence erupted. And while he supports the police, he also worries what impact the tactical team response may have.
“Now I fear that Sunday's display of force from CHPD will entrench many of the protesters in their rejection of non-violence as a basic organizing principle,” Chilton wrote. “This is what Dr. King meant when he so famously said "Violence begets violence." Each new act of violence only encourages the other side to escalate. And where does it all end? And what does it all accomplish?”
In an email this week, Carrboro Alderman Sammy Slade asked Interim Town Manager Matt Efird what kind of tactical equipment the Carrboro police have and what training they have received in using it.
“It concerns me very much that nationally there is a trend of militarization of police forces and that we may have got caught up in that process,” Slade wrote. ”I am a believer that the military should only be used to protect the country from invading armies. Too many countries around the world have turned the military or de-facto military forces (paramilitary) on their own people, many times with U.S. bidding and facilitation.
“To have a local law enforcement that has the training and equipment of a military force is not something that I am interested in. I have lived in Latin America and know what it is like to live in a society that has a military/paramilitary for use on its own people and I do not want little Carrboro to be such a place.”
Efird is looking into Slade’s question.
Read excerpts from Mayor Chilton's essay coming Sunday in The Chapel Hill News.