This has not been a great week for marketing Wake County to the rest of the nation.
As noted in today's article, Wake's family-friendly reputation has been replaced with images of shouting students and police handcuffing protesters. Critics of the new Wake County school board majority say they're tarnishing the area's national reputation while supporters are blaming the problems on outside agitators, some of whom have a lengthy record of political activism and arrests.
Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said the situation is causing such as black eye for Wake that the county commissioners need to exert control over the school board. Meeker, who spoke at the Friends of Diversity Press Conference the day before the election in October, is married to school board member Anne McLaurin.
"It's time for the county commissioners to step into this disorderly situation," Meeker said. "Things have gotten so bad."
Yevonne Brannon, chairwoman of the Great Schools in Wake Coalition, said the new board majority's policies are causing people to be reluctant to move here or to bring their businesses.
"We've been the standard for how to do it right," Brannon said. "It has got to be amazing to the national media and the national education community how we're doing it wrong now."
Brannon agrees that the protesters "got out of hand" on Tuesday and shouldn't have been disrupting the meeting by chanting so loudly.
Brannon says she realizes that school board chairman Ron Margiotta was doing what he thought was right by walking up to the protesters in the hallway. But she said he made things worse.
But Joey Stansbury, who runs the Wake Community Network blog and PAC, thinks the three who got arrested were deliberately trying to do so. He called them "paid political agitators."
In the case of Dante Strobino, 29, of Raleigh, Tuesday's arrest was from his first. State court records show that Strobino has been arrested four times for trespassing, twice for resisting a police officer and once for breaking and entering during his many protests.
Strobino is a union organizer affiliated with Raleigh F.I.S.T. (Fight Imperialism Stand Together), a self-professed socialist group. He's a former N.C. State student who was well known for his activism on campus.
Duncan Edward Hardee, 21, of Asheville also has been arrested before for his political activism. State court records show that the former Carnage Middle and former Enloe High student has been arrested once for resisting a police officer, once for trespassing and once for indecent exposure.
Hardee was also apparently arrested but never charged for civil disobedience at a 2008 "Vets for Peace" protest in St. Paul, Minn., during the Republican National Convention. He was apparently pepper sprayed by police.
The third person arrested on Tuesday was Rakhee Devasthali, 22, a UNC-Chapel Hill student from Fayetteville. State court records showed her arrest on charges of obstructing a police officer was her first.
Devasthali is described as "a student known for activism" in Thursday's Daily Tarheel, the UNC-Chapel Hill student newspaper. The article said she's a women’s studies major and member of the group Student Action with Workers.
Devasthali was one of the protesters who was nearly arrested after they started chanting their opposition to increased tuition and fees at a state legislative hearing this month.
Devasthali didn't return calls or e-mails Thursday. Hardee couldn't be reached for comment.
Strobino declined comment Thursday, saying a press conference would be forthcoming.
UPDATE: CORRECTED LINK FOR HARDEE'S ARREST RECORD