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Partner Congregation Pastor Arrested at Protest of Schools in North Carolina


July 20, 2010 | bpfna

Protesters have been rallying against a pending policy shift in the Wake County, NC school system. At issue is the possible discontinuation of a busing policy focused on economic diversity. The proposed plan would focus instead on "neighborhood zones", and protesters say that would, in effect, cause a resegregation of the schools there. Protesters included pastors and congregants from two BPFNA Partner Congregations, Binkley Memorial Baptist Church (Chapel Hill, NC) and Pullen Memorial Baptist Church (Raleigh, NC).

RALEIGH (WTVD) July 20, 2010 -- Several protesters, including the leader of the North Carolina NAACP was arrested Tuesday at Wake County school headquarters.

Outside of the school board meeting, Reverend William Barber was escorted to a waiting vehicle with his hands restrained.

Reverend Nancy Petty - senior pastor at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church (a BPFNA Partner Congregation) - was also arrested. Both were charged with second-degree trespassing. A third person - Gregory Moss - was charged with resisting, delaying or obstructing a law enforcement officer. All three were taken to the Wake County Jail and later released.

It's the second time Barber and Petty have been arrested at a school board meeting. They were also charged with trespassing in June when they disrupted a meeting.

Tuesday evening during the public comment session of the Wake school board meeting, protesters inside the meeting began chanting. The meeting came to a halt as dozens of people stood arm-in-arm as police officers tried to break up the group.

Board members exited the room as authorities arrested crowd members. School board member Keith Sutton was seen among the group of protesters, but was lead away by school officials. He was not arrested.

Authorities say they arrested 16 people during the outburst. The group was placed on an inmate transfer bus and taken to the magistrates office.

Tuesday's arrests came after the NAACP and supporters of Wake County schools' old socio-economic diversity policy gathered at the Raleigh Convention Center for a march through downtown Tuesday morning.

The midday heat caused five protestors to collapse in the street before the rally ended. Paramedics transported two to WakeMed for evaluation.

Raleigh police estimate nearly 1,000 protestors participated in the march and rally, and there were no arrests.

The crowd carried signs that criticized the Wake County School Boards plan to do away with the old diversity policy in favor of neighborhood school zones. One sign read: "History is not a mystery. Separate is always unequal." Another read: "Segregate equals hate."

"I am really proud, and pleased that all the downtown can see there are a lot of people who feel strongly about this issue," protestor Julie Snee said.

Among the speakers at the rally were students from Wake County Schools who say their success is due to their parents and teachers.

"And the diversity policy, it opened doors of opportunity for me!" one student exclaimed. "Without the policy there will be few honors classes at my school."

Everyone who showed up for the demonstration hopes school leaders will reconsider their decision to eliminate the diversity policy.

"I have two children in the Wake County school system, and would much prefer for us to work with the progress that we have been making rather than upend everything," Snee said. "That's what they did."

Wake School board chair Ron Margiotta said he believes the protest is premature. "They're protesting assignment zones that haven't even been developed yet. Give me a break."

(Copyright © 2010 WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission. Additional distribution not allowed.)

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