The Democratic majority on the Wake County school board is now taking public criticism over rejecting mediation with the protesters who were arrested at board meetings in 2010.
The Rev. Earl Johnson, pastor of Martin Street Baptist Church, announced today that he will hold a press conference on Tuesday to voice dissatisfaction with the school board's action. Democratic board members have tried to argue their decision doesn't mean they want trials but prosecutors say it's causing them to seek them.
Johnson will call on the school board to now ask for mediation.
Martin Street Baptist Church has been one of the major centers for supporters of the old diversity policy who backed the new majority. In addition, Johnson is also now president of the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association.
Here's the email message that Johnson sent today about the press conference that will be held at the church at noon Tuesday:
Dear clergy members and friends. As you may be aware, the Democratic controlled Wake County BOE has decided to go along with their Republican rivals in supporting trials for nearly 30 protesters who were willing to be jailed for their convictions during last years heated BOE meetings. Among those they are seeking trials for are a 16 year old and a 17 year old and other teenagers, as well as several clergy members. For a more comprehensive analysis of the boards decision please check Wednesday's N&O.
I am scheduling a press conference here at Martin Street Baptist Church on Tuesday Jan. 24, to voice our displeasure and disappointment of the BOE's decision to support individual trials for these protesters. I am asking all clergy who see the immorality and injustice in the board's decision to stand with me and others in this important matter. Such trials are unnecessary, especially when mediation is a viable option.
This decision will not only tie up our judicial system and cost taxpayers thousands of dollars, put innocent men and women on trial, it will also create a national embarrassment for our state. Our constitution guarantees us the right to protest for right and we should all welcome the opportunity to do so when our political institution fails.
What we will ask the board to do is to forgo their previous decision for prosecution and recommend a speedy mediation process. This is the sensible and honorable thing to do. I pray that you will join me in voicing your opposition.
Two things I need immediately: first, send this email to other clergy groups and concerned persons who might want to join us on next Tuesday. Second, send me an email letting me know that you will attend the press conference. If you intend to speak please let me know as well.