Monday, February 9, 2009

NAACP: UNC System Needs Policy On Hate Crimes


By Lauren Hills, NBC17, 2 weeks ago
Updated: Feb. 9 8:17 am

The NAACP told a UNC commission why a hate speech policy is needed throughout the UNC Systems' 16 schools.

This comes in light of racist graffiti that was painted on North Carolina State University's Free Expression Tunnel after Barack Obama was elected President.

The NAACP started its presentation to the commission by displaying a picture of one of those racist statements painted on the Tunnel that reads, "let's shoot the N****r in the head.'"

"When you write 'KKK' and let's shoot the n-word in the head' and use confederate flags, you can't hide behind a free expression law," said The Rev. William Barber, NAACP President.

The commission is tasked with deciding if the UNC System needs a policy on hate speech. On Monday, Dr. Barber made his case why he believes it's necessary. He said the incident at NC State is not justifiable as free speech.

"That speech is not merely offensive, it's threatening and it's not protected (under the First Amendment)," said Dr. Barber.

Barber said the UNC System needs to define how it will investigate hate crimes and what the penalities are. Also, he said, "we need a clear curriculum that teaches us more about how we must interface and be one community."

But Barber said this issue extends beyond NC State. It's something he believes boils down to peoples' mindsets.

"We may not be able to change their mind, but we need laws and regulations that will prohibit actions," he said.

Barber was allowed to address the commission alone today because he was unable to attend the public hearing earlier this month.

The commission's next meeting is February 9th at 1 p.m. at the Spangler Center. Commissioners will have to decide by the end of March whether to implement a hate speech policy. They are also taking a look at whether students should be required to take diversity traning courses.

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