Truth commissions to gather in Greensboro

Posted on July 1, 2006

Associated Press

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Members of truth commissions from other countries will gather later this week in Greensboro to help people from U.S. communities that have begun similar projects or hope to do so.

Among those attending the meetings Thursday and Friday at Bennett College are truth commission members from Northern Ireland, Peru, Sri Lanka and South Africa.

Participants in the discussions will compare the work of the Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Project, particularly the commission's recent report on the fatal Klan-Nazi shootings of 1979, with the work of similar bodies in those countries.

The sessions are not public, although news conferences will be held each day. When the discussions conclude Saturday, free, public events will be held at North Carolina A&T University to celebrate the work of the Greensboro panel.

Among those scheduled to attend is Irving Joyner, vice chairman of the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission, which the Legislature created to study and report on the 1898 seizure of power in Wilmington from a democratically elected, majority-black city government. That group's report was released May 31.

Others attending include representatives from:

_ New Orleans, where government inaction during and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 has raised questions of race, class and politics.

_ Moore's Ford, Ga., where the killings of four young black men on July 25, 1946, remain unsolved.

_ The Anthony P. Crawford Remembered Memorial Committee, which seeks justice on behalf of more than 5,000 people lynched in the American South during and after Reconstruction.

The Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Project is the local group whose work led to the creation of the separate Greensboro truth commission. After two years of study, that commission issued a report May 25 on the Klan-Nazi shootings of Nov. 3, 1979, that killed five Communist Workers Party members and injured 10 other people.

The gunmen were acquitted of all charges at two trials. A civil jury later found two Greensboro police officers jointly liable, with white supremacists, for one of the deaths; the city paid $400,000 to settle all claims.

The report concluded that the single greatest contributor to the violence was the lack of visible police officers at the Communist Workers Party protest site even though a police informant warned that violence was likely.

The report called for apologies by the city and the Greensboro Police Department to various groups, including the shooting victims and residents of the Morningside Homes community in which the shootings took place.

It also called for a memorial to the event, anti-racism training for city and county employees, and other measures.
Information from: News & Record,

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