Black Lives Matter flags in Carrboro staying put despite State Board of Elections request to remove them

Orange County News

CARRBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — The Black Lives Matter flags affixed at the Carrboro Town Hall are staying put, despite the North Carolina State Board of Elections requesting them to be removed.

The Town Hall serves as a one-stop polling place.

A letter dated Oct. 28 sent to Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle and the town council from Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell cites complaints about the flags as the reason behind the request.

The North Carolina Board of Election received a “couple of emailed complaints” about the flags which are affixed to the building located at 301 W Main St.

The Town of Carrboro tells CBS 17 that after officials met, including the Town’s attorney, Mayor Lavelle, and the Town Council, a decision to leave the flags in place was made.

The Board of Election said it began to contact Town officials about the complaints before hearing from the General Counsel of the Republican Party.

The GOP’s counsel told the Board it had received “numerous additional complaints” about the flags.

That development led the Board of Elections to request the Town take down the Black Lives Matter flags.

“The flags are attached to the front of the one-stop site and therefore could be interpreted as an official endorsement by the board of elections in favor of a particular movement,” Bell said in the letter.

The letter says the early-voting site must allow all voters to cast their ballot without “intimidation or hinrance.”

“As Executive Director of the State Board and the state’s chief elections official, I take seriously the complaint of any voter who may be offended by the presence of this symbol when exercising their right to vote,” Bell wrote.

The mayor did not reply to requests for comment.  

It’s unclear if the State Board of Elections will try to take any further action.  

Diane Robertson, a Democrat, told CBS 17 she was “stunned” to read about the state’s request. She said she’s volunteered at the town hall early voting site for the last couple weeks. 

“I wonder what it says if someone objects to Black Lives Matter, what that says. I mean, I don’t understand the controversy around that statement,” she said.  

Marilyn Carter chairs the county’s Democratic Party and was at town hall Thursday. She said the issue of the flags ultimately needs to be resolved between the town and the Board of Elections. 

“But, at the end of the day, the Orange County Democratic Party supports the Black Lives Matter movement and we support the right to free speech,” she said. “I think people know here in Orange County that people can cast their ballots and people respect each other’s right to vote.” 

Waddy Davis, who chairs the county’s Republican Party, said volunteers have been harassed as they worked outside the polling site.  

Payton said she and other Republican volunteers have had their signs stolen and had obscenities shouted at them. 

“I have been told I am racist. I don’t even know who or what I am racist against,” she said.  

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