Surprising Reactions

The Pilot – Letter to the Editor, Sunday, March 11 

Anyone reading the Feb. 26 edition of The Pilot should be appalled at the article termed “Bill Aims at Pinehurst Moratorium.” The article states that state Sen. Tom McInnis filed a bill to limit Pinehurst’s ability to institute building moratoriums.

Public hearings are held to determine the fate of the town. Mayor John Strickland said they followed state laws when they adopted and did extensions on the moratoriums that were in place. The residents were not opposed, according to the mayor.

It should be noted: McInnis moved to Pinehurst from Richmond County in 2021 around the time the GOP did the remapping. McInnis talks about the district and citizens he represents and states they have been abused and that the moratorium currently in place caused him to seek an immediate relief for the citizens of Pinehurst.

The bill proposed by McInnis pertains to Pinehurst and the village. However, new limits on all local governments would not be out of the question, according to McInnis.

As I continued to read, two more articles received my attention regarding our Moore County commissioners and two incidents where anti-semitic banners were hung in Moore County.

At the Feb. 21 commissioners meeting, Chairman Nick Picerno said, “Hate has no place anywhere on any subject.” He follows that up with it “was really a Vass town issue, not so much a Moore County issue.”

Come on, man! Vass IS in Moore County, as are Cameron, Carthage and Little River.

Malcolm Hall


Advocates ‘Take Back the Bridge’ Where Anti Semitic Banner Dropped in Vass

Barbara Rothbeind, president of the Sandhills Jewish Congregation, speaks during an event organized by the Sandhills Coalition for Peace, Love and Justice on Feb. 14, 2023.

Standing on a hill near the Vass bridge where an anti semitic banner was dropped in December, Barbara Rothbeind, president of the Sandhills Jewish Congregation, said the community cannot let its “silence be a sign of complicity.”

“We do not have the luxury of time to be afraid to speak out,” she told a crowd of over 50 people, many of whom held up literal signs denouncing hate and bigotry, on Tuesday morning. “Together we are the face of Moore County and our words and deeds of love, peace, justice will be the banners that we will hang as a welcome sign to all those entering Moore County.”

Barbara Rothbeind was one of several local leaders who spoke during “Take Back the Bridge,” a demonstration organized by the Sandhills Coalition of Peace, Love and Justice. The event was both a condemnation of the white supremacy-espousing banner that was unfurled over U.S. 1 and a celebration of the Town of Vass for its swift response to the vandalism.

People hold signs denouncing hate and bigotry during an event near the Vass bridge where an anti semitic banner was dropped in December 2022.

The banner, which was emblazoned with Nazi symbols and phrases associated with white supremacist groups, was discovered as Jewish families were preparing to observe the first night of Hanukkah on Dec. 18. The following day, Vass issued a statement saying its mayor, commissioners and staff “unequivocally denounce antisemitism and hate in any form.”

“All forms of hate against any group will not be tolerated in our community,” the town said at the time. “The disgusting antisemitic sign that was hung on a bridge near Vass does not reflect the beliefs of our community. The Town of Vass will rise above this hate.”

O’Linda Watkins-McSurely, president of the Moore County NAACP, on Tuesday presented Eddie Callahan, mayor of Vass, with a plaque on behalf of the coalition in appreciation of the town’s “incredible and powerful denunciation of hateful bigotry in all its forms.”

Addressing the crowd, Callahan described Vass as a “small town built on diversity.” Issuing the statement, he said, was something “that just had to be done.”

Vass Mayor Eddie Callahan, left, with O’Linda Watkins-McSurely, president of the Moore County NAACP. Photograph by Jaymie Baxley/The Pilot

    A second banner bearing anti semitic messages was found hanging from another bridge overlooking U.S. 1 on Christmas morning. Both incidents are being investigated by the Moore County Sheriff’s Office.

    The banners were dropped amid a national uptick in anti semitic incidents. In 2021, the Anti-Defamation League tracked a record 2,717 cases of anti semitic harassment, vandalism or assault. A 2022 survey by the league found that prejudice against Jewish people had nearly doubled since 2019.

    Scene of an anti-hate demonstration in Vass. Photograph by Jaymie Baxley/The Pilot
    Anti-hate protestors in Vass. Photograph by Jaymie Baxley/The Pilot

    Tuesday’s event also included remarks from Charles Oldham, chair of the board of directors for the local LGBTQ organization Sandhills Pride. He noted that the banners were discovered mere weeks after two electrical substations in Moore County were sabotaged by intentional gunfire, leaving tens of thousands of local homes and businesses without power for days.

    No arrests have been made and police have yet to announce a potential motive for the attacks. Still, Oldham noted that similar crimes targeting the nation’s critical infrastructure have been linked to white supremacists in recent months.

    “We have to be steadfast and we have to show to the world at large that’s not who we are and it’s not something that we can accept in this community,” he said.

    O’linda Watkins-McSurely, president of the Moore County NAACP. Photograph by Jaymie Baxley/The Pilot

      Moore County residents rally against hate speech

      WTVD logo

      Tuesday, February 14, 2023 12:51PM

      MOORE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) — People in Moore County are fighting back against hate speech.

      Sandhills Coalition for Peace and Justice is hosting a gathering called “Take Back the Bridge” on Tuesday.


      Sandhills Coalition for Peace and Justice is hosting a gathering called “Take Back the Bridge” on Tuesday.

      MOORE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) — People in Moore County are fighting back against hate speech.

      Sandhills Coalition for Peace and Justice is hosting a gathering called “Take Back the Bridge” on Tuesday.

      This comes after an antisemitic banner was placed on the bridge over U.S. 1 near the Town of Vass back in December.

      “What we have seen so far and the kinds of things that have made the news about Moore County is not who we are. We are a community today of peace love and justice and we want to also push back and fight back and let people know that we’re not going to tolerate it,” said Lowell Simon who is the co-founder of the coalition.

      Immediately following the incident the town mayor sent out a statement denouncing antisemitism and all forms of hate. He also spoke at today’s event.

      “The cowardliness of the people that did it to do it under the cloak of darkness and catch people by surprise it spoke volumes about the people who did it,” said Mayor Eddie Callahan.

      Sandhills Coalition says the rally is also an effort to thank the town for their actions.

      The rally took place on the northbound side of U.S. 1 between the off ramp and the highway.

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      Democratic NC Attorney General Josh Stein to run for governor

      Attorney General Josh Stein on Wednesday announced he is running for governor in 2024.

      Posted  — Updated 

      North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced plans to run for governor Wednesday — one of the first major campaign announcements for state office ahead of the 2024 election.

      The decision sets the stage for a potential political battle focused on culture war issues and abortion rights in the state. Much of Stein’s video announcement focused on Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, the presumed Republican front-runner in the race.

      “Robinson wants to tell you who you can marry, when you’ll be pregnant, and who you should hate,” Stein, a Democrat, said in the video. “I’m running for governor because I believe in a very different North Carolina, one rooted in our shared values of freedom, justice and opportunity for everyone. And I believe the fights we choose show who we are and determine what kind of state we’ll become.”

      In multiple interviews with WRAL News last year, Stein expressed a desire to run and said one of his main priorities will be defending access to abortion. The longtime Democrat made his views clear in an August news conference at the state’s Department of Justice office: “Politicians are playing with women’s lives,” Stein said. “Decisions about reproductive care are deeply personal. They should be made by a woman in consultation with her loved ones and her doctor. They should not be made by politicians.”

      Abortion is legal in North Carolina up to 20 weeks into a pregnancy. Republican lawmakers are expected to push to change that law during this year’s legislative session. Cooper has promised to veto new restrictions.

      Robinson, who has acknowledged paying for an abortion more than 30 years ago, is now staunchly anti-abortion. The first-term lieutenant governor has said many times that he’s likely to run for the state’s highest executive office. Polling late last year indicated that he’d outperform another potential Republican candidate, state Treasurer Dale Folwell.

      Folwell said in a text message after Stein’s announcement Wednesday that Republican primary voters “will have an option” next year. Robinson political consultant Conrad Pogorzelski said Stein is “hoping that by creating the narrative that it is him against Robinson, he can avoid a primary.”

      State Republican Party Chairman Michael Whatley in a statement said Stein “built his entire career advancing the priorities of the progressive left and enabling Democrats’ radical agenda” and that he’s “clearly the wrong choice for the Old North State in 2024.”

      How NC Attorney General Josh Stein is bracing for his next big political fight

      Stein has been the state’s top law enforcement officer for six years. He has a sizable pile of campaign cash, raising more than $5 million over the past two years. He has nearly $4 million on hand now, according to his campaign. During his 13-year political career as a lawmaker in the state Senate and as North Carolina’s top lawyer, Stein has played a leading role in a national lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, extended mail-in ballot collection times in the 2020 election, reduced the state’s testing backlog on sexual assault kits and is now eyeing the influence social media companies have on children.

      Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is not able to run for governor in 2024 because of term limits. He praised Stein during a Wednesday morning interview but stopped short of endorsing him. So far, Stein is the only known Democratic candidate for the office. Candidates don’t have to file with the State Board of Elections until December, leaving time for that to change.

      The attorney general has a number of high-profile endorsements from party insiders, including former Gov. Jim Hunt, House Democratic Leader Robert Reives — who some Democrats hoped would run for governor — and U.S. Rep. Deborah Ross, who called him “the right choice to be North Carolina’s next governor.”

      “He has spent his career fighting for North Carolinians, and I’ve called him a partner on many of our state’s most pressing issues – from working for justice for victims of sexual violence to expanding economic opportunity for all,” Ross said.

      Stein’s video announcement opens with a description of the 1971 firebombing of a law office his father, Adam Stein, shared with fellow civil rights attorneys Julius Chambers and James Ferguson. From there Stein transitions to “a different set of bomb throwers,” showing video from the January 6 U.S. Capitol attack, then clips of Robinson.

      “I’m running for governor because I believe in a very different North Carolina,” Stein says in the video.

      “This is our moment to protect our freedoms and democracy, provide every child a great education, and expand economic opportunity to every corner of the state,” he says. “… We’ll build a better and brighter North Carolina by standing up for what’s right, fighting to fix what’s wrong, and doing right by every single North Carolinian.”

      Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie contributed to this report.