Publisher’s note: The turmoil gripping downtownFayetteville is infuriating as well as heartbreaking. This edition of U&CW is a nod to those frustrated by a lack of resolve from city leaders in recent weeks and a lack of respect from those who chose to deface and destroy our downtown, damaging personal property and ruining the lives and businesses of so many. We could write pages about it. Instead, we’ve chosen to let the community members speak for themselves. The pages that follow include just a few of the letters and postings about recent events, as well as uplifting photos and a chilling piece of history dating back to1963 and taken directly from the Congressional record. It is a 1963 prediction on how the Socialists and Communists will take control of America. It is a shocking reality of a 21st century America. The Communist/Socialist plan to take over America, conceived in the 1950s and ‘60s, is definitely working. See for yourself on page 15. Unfortunately, law-abiding citizens who believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are the only ones who can save Fayetteville and our country. Caving in, being silent, ignoring the situation and not wanting to get involved has only gotten us where we are today. Below are just a few who choose to not be silent.
— Bill Bowman
“an-ar-chy – a state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority”
— from Oxford Dictionary on Lexico
We had grown accustomed to the loud noises emerging from the Market House and the frequent motorcycles that visit. But we were startled on Sunday night to see 4-wheeler ATVS cruising up and down the Person Street sidewalks. These were on the actual sidewalks, not the streets. But our surprise was minor compared to the disappointment we experienced as we once again had to sit and watch as not so much as one police officer arrived to address the growing infractions.
In some ways, it seems like the wild west down here. The boarded-up stores with their painted plywood fronts seem somewhat quaint in the daylight. But our downtown takes on a more sinister and threatening look at night as large crowds grow and are joined by motorcycles and ATVs. You see far fewer people and cars as people secure themselves behind locked doors and peer through the curtains in anticipation of what happens next.
A state of disorder exists today in our downtown. What we do, or opt not to do, is going to have implications for this entire city for years to come.
I have heard far too many people say they are sorry for what is happening in our downtown, but they will not be visiting downtown as long as all this anarchy exists. Imagine the impact this is having on the small businesses in our downtown following so closely to the COVID closings. Several have already incurred thousands of dollars of repair bills from last month’s unmanaged demonstrations. Many likely will not survive the financial impact. This situation has set back the economic development of our downtown for decades.
This is not a failure that arose from any party’s legitimate right to demonstrate. In fact, many of the demands of the protesters seem reasonable as we all seek ways to challenge our traditional thinking about race relations, to ensure that all people are treated fairly and to take all steps necessary to ensure our police department is well-trained, respectful and professional to every citizen.
This is not a failure of the police officers. I have heard from far too many police officers and firemen who want to fulfill their responsibility to protect and to serve but are held back by our city’s elected and/or professional leadership. The tactical decision to sit by and allow this situation to grow to this point is unacceptable. Someone should be held accountable.
This is a failure on many fronts — a failure of communication that prevents citizens from knowing what is happening, a failure of the free press perhaps too understaffed to ask the hard questions and a failure of our reluctance to get involved until it is too late.
But mostly it is a failure of leadership.
The City of Fayetteville FY2020 Strategic Plan reports that a core value of our city is to “safeguard and enhance the public trust in City Government.” Our elected leaders and our City’s professional staff are failing us in this basic responsibility of every local government everywhere. There has been far too little communication, far too few creative solutions identified and far too much willingness to allow the situation to grow unchecked to the unacceptable place we find ourselves today.
In the absence of real corrective action, in the absence of real leadership demonstrated by those we elect and those we employ to lead us, we could likely see this state of anarchy reach even higher levels with devastating impact to property and people.
Our downtown does not belong to any one of us — not to our elected officials, the protestors, the residents, the business owners or our police department leadership. They have merely been temporarily charged with its stewardship.
Our downtown belongs to all of us — each of those that came before us in the 250-plus years of our history and to the thousands that will come after.
It is time we acted like it.
Former Fayetteville Mayor
Here is a quote to consider: “Find the good. It’s all around you. Find it, showcase it, and you’ll start believing in it.” The author is Jesse Owens.
For those of you who unfamiliar with Jesse, he was the greatest Olympian of his day. He was a black man born in Alabama during the “Jim Crow” era of the south. He was a track star who earned the right to represent the United States in the 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin, Germany. This was no ordinary Olympiad. It was the showcase event for the Nazi government of Adolph Hitler. He was going to show that white Aryan Germans were superior to all races of the world. Well, Jesse would have none of it. He won four gold medals in track and field, as well as setting a few world records. All this was filmed for the world to see.
For those of you who are protesting the perceived racism of white Americans, the Founding Fathers, and the Constitution of the United States, I have a few words for you to consider. I cannot speak for all white Americans, nor can any black man speak for all African Americans. So, let us talk of the Founding Fathers and the Constitution.
The Founding Fathers, those all-white male gentries, gave the world the greatest governing document ever conceived. It gave to the people the right as to how they are to be governed, and people retained rights that had never been granted in the history of the world.
That document gave you the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of worship, freedom to bear arms, protection from unlawful search and seizure and, as amended, the right of all citizens — male and female, regardless of race — the right to vote. This document established a representative Republic — a totally new way to represent all citizens and states.
This is the legacy of our Founding Fathers. Sure, they had faults, and some were slave owners, but they designed a government structure that ultimately gave freedom to all citizens. If Jesse Owens could find the good the United States offered in his time, maybe you will look for the good as well.
PS: Here is the difference in protesting/demonstrating in the U.S. versus Communist/Marxist country. The Chinese government has taken over the policing and criminal systems of Hong Kong, which has been self governed since Britain turn it over to China. The government was concerned about Hong Kong citizens demonstrating for democracy and the right to be self-governed. Now the Communist government has banned a series of words, including freedom, democracy, and other similar words. People are protesting by handing out blank papers with no words on them to protest the restrictions. They are being arrested for doing so. That is a prime example of total control being the hands of the government rather than the people.
- Warren L. Hahn
To the Editor,
We wanted to write a review of the events surrounding The Citizen Cares Project Walk of Support that we planned solely to support our local police department. We want to be transparent as to what we have heard from our local police officers and also share how we feel about what we have witnessed firsthand. To be clear, our interpretation of these events are our feelings only.
A group of citizens felt the need to show support for our local PD. This idea came from conversations we had with officers, who felt unsupported — specifically, after being told to stand down during a time when active gunfire was taking place and mayhem was occurring. They shared that the emphasis was on not upsetting the rioters rather than allowing the police officers to uphold law and order. When making decisions regarding our peaceful walk of support, we created our mission statement, which is: “We believe in Police Officers who do good work and lay their lives on the line every day to protect all people and property. We believe in encouraging them and lifting them up in prayer along with their families. We believe in showing them gratitude and love.”
The intent of the walk was solely to show support for our local law enforcement and leaders. The day of the walk, the Fayetteville PD requested we alter our route. After discussing it, we decided modifying the route was the best way to fulfill our mission, which was showing our local PD that they are respected, appreciated and loved. We also did not want to create more stress for them; they are under a tremendous amount already.
Why did none of our city leaders come out and support our police department? Is it because they are trying to cater to those who want us all to be intimidated? These are questions you need to ask yourselves. The general public does not see them working tirelessly behind the scenes, trying to find solutions. We are running out of time and are worried that one more day might be too late. It is only getting worse by the minute, and rumors are flying everywhere. Call in the National Guard — do whatever you have to do to ensure total chaos doesn’t ensue and to make sure nobody gets hurt. Do what you must, I guarantee the rest of the country will follow suit.
Our little walk in Fayetteville, North Carolina, has received national attention — attention is not what we were after. Still, we have had people from other states reach out to us and ask for our action plan and timeline. They want to replicate what we did.
People want a place to share their beliefs and principles peacefully without being attacked. When I say we, I mean our city that we all so dearly love. People came out in any way they could to support this cause. The silent majority feels the way we all do. We — you and I — support and want law and order.
After our walk started, they (the Market House group) realized we were not going to walk by, and this infuriated them. Our CCP walk had nothing to do with them, as it was scheduled long before they ever camped out. They ran down Hay Street to engage with us when we turned onto Ray Avenue. They locked arms and blocked the road, thus breaking the law. We were then asked to change our route, yet again, to come into the backside of the PD. Our group refused, as we felt we had the right to be there and walked on. When we reached the PD, the Market House group was yelling and chanting at us.
As far as I know, there was not a cross word from our group. In fact, statements were made that these individuals may want to rethink some spaces they entered — personal spaces. As for me, I was not going to engage with them in any way or respond to the statements they were screaming at me. I kept repeating, “Jesus loves everybody,” drowning out the hateful comments they were spewing. The hateful things they were screaming at us and about our Police Chief were unacceptable. We all have a right to freedom of speech. We don’t have the right to disturb the peace, and they were disturbing ours.
They continue to disturb the peace in downtown Fayetteville. When you allow people to violate little laws, they then break bigger laws. This is exactly how chaos starts. When people are allowed to break little rules, they will continue to test the limits, and those little laws they were breaking will turn into bigger and bigger offenses. This is what concerns us now, as law-abiding citizens, and we should not be discounted just because we are law-abiding citizens. Where is the reward for us? What is the reason for following the law if everyone is not held accountable in the same way? Why did we have to remain on the sidewalk as instructed by police on the CCP march while the protesters were allowed to block a street and disturb the peace — even after we attempted to avoid them?
I am begging you to do something now. You see what painting the lane around the Market House has done — nothing good. It has empowered people to incite racism rather than bring about equality. The proof is right before our eyes. We are all on the same team. We all want better for everyone.
At the end of the day, I do not think most people give much thought to someone’s skin color. Good people are good and bad people are bad, and this has no color.
Respectfully, Lisa G.
Co-Organizer of Citizen Cares Project
I want to thank each of you (community leaders) for stepping up and serving our community as public servants. You are “in the arena” and all credit goes to those of you who have the guts to get into the arena.
As co-organizer of the Citizen Cares Project’s Walk of Support, I want to share with you a few of my thoughts, and my motivation for getting involved with this project. I hope you’ll take the time to read my words.
I’m a recently retired (2016) Army Veteran of 26 years, my wife served 30 years before retiring in 2017. We are both children of immigrants that fled their countries of Cuba and El Salvador due to civil unrest and revolution. While serving in uniform, we had the good fortune of having support from all America. I was proud to wear the uniform, and our citizens showed their gratitude and appreciation routinely. The way our Vietnam veterans were treated is a deep scar to our nation. Our nation has gone out of its way to heal that wound by treating the military generations after Vietnam with respect and appreciation.
When I see (across the country) the way that our law enforcement officers have been disrespected, assaulted and even killed recently, it causes me great concern and fear. I fear that cops are leaving the force. I fear that cops are scared to do their jobs. I fear that when we don’t have law enforcement, anarchy presents itself and revolutions bubble up very quickly, as happened to the countries from which our parent’s fled. It was my hope that our show of support to our police officers would give them an extra boost and reassurance that the public is behind them. Unfortunately, with the appearance of the “Market House Group” on Wednesday eve, many folks stayed at home. I very much believe the “Market House Group” reduced the attendance for our walk of support by half.
I’m a Buckeye by birth and a Tarheel by choice.
I love Fayetteville. So much so that when my wife and I retired from the Army, we chose to stay here. I’m a real estate agent that has been selling the heck out of Fayetteville over the past few years. I have been promoting the tremendous downtown revitalization efforts. I have been singing the praises of the leadership of this city as well as the private investors that have poured money into our town. I can’t count the number of folks that were looking in Moore, Harnett and Hoke county that have bought homes through me in Fayetteville over the past few years. I am selling Fayetteville because I believed in it. With the apparent lawlessness, anarchy and civil unrest that appears to be condoned by the leadership of this city, in good conscience I don’t know if I can continue to sell Fayetteville to my clients.
If you want your legacy to be the leadership of this city that lost this city, then keep allowing this ugly behavior downtown. I have read the demands of the group downtown — some of them really don’t seem unreasonable. But they all take funding. If you lose this city, you will lose so much tax revenue that the programs they are requesting will be impossible to fund. If you lose this city, recruiting, training and retaining the best police force in the state will be impossible to fund. Do not let your legacy be that of losing this city. Businesses don’t want to be downtown anymore, investors don’t want to invest in downtown any more, and families don’t want to go downtown any more — all of those people/groups are good. Please, for the sake of the city, don’t let this go on a day longer. I want to stay in Fayetteville and contribute to this city the best way that I can. I’m afraid that all of this has caused me and my wife to reconsider whether or not we want to stay here — and I am 100% confident that this same discussion is happening around this city, even by folks who have much deeper roots in this town than I do.
I know how difficult leadership is, and you have a lot of constituents to satisfy. We pray for you and our nation’s leaders. When making decisions about which side you are going to choose, ask yourself who’s contributing to this city and who’s hurting it. You can no longer play peacemaker to everybody. The constituents that are doing the most for this city hang in the balance of your decisions.
This happened in our city on Saturday night into the morning hours of Sunday.
Respectfully, Tony D.
Co-Organizer of Citizen Cares Project