Former Wake County school board chairman Ron Margiotta is not happy with the plea deals that were reached with the Rev. William Barber and the other people who were arrested at school board meetings.
In an interview Monday on the Bill LuMaye Show on WPTF, Margiotta said he agrees with requiring the protesters to perform community service but is against having the charges dismissed when they complete the work. He said he wished the protesters had been fined to repay the security costs at school board meetings.
"It was a matter of our District Attorney just wanting to not push too hard on the issue," Margiotta said. "I think it's that simple."
Margiotta said that before giving the Raleigh Police the authorization to arrest Barber, he asked the state NAACP leader if he wanted to be arrested. Margiotta said that Barber answered yes.
"They should have understand that some consequences must come with that type of protest," Margiotta said. "There are ways to protest and there are ways to not protest. And that type of protest can create anarchy in our society and that's bothersome."
Margiotta also took exception to statements from the protesters after the sentencing that indicated they were ready to engage in civil disobedience again if they disagreed with the new school board's actions.
"The concern is what do they do the next time around," Margiotta said. "As I read some of the reports in the newspapers, some of the leaders of this group — after they received their so-called sentence — they stated they will do the same thing again.
They were elated over the type of sentence they received. That's kind of scary. What do they do the next time? Bring bombs to meetings?"
Margiotta also questioned how Barber and Dante Strobino could get into a first-offender program considering their other arrests. In Barber's case, the DA plans to dismiss his second school board trespassing charge if he performs the community service on the first one.
On the issue of making protesters repay security costs for board meetings, I don't have the latest number. But school staff had previously said that $38,589.63 has been spent on security on board meetings from December 2009 through March 2011.
"They should have been fined to accommodate the public costs," Margiotta said. "...The taxpayers pay these expenses. It is you and it is me. It's not some magical body up there on Wake Forest Road that pays these bills."