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Familiarity

Jordan, Just wanted to thank you for taking the time to sit down with us Friday night and for writing a great article on the band [“New Familiars summon old pleasures”; March 11, 2008; by Jordan Green]! Don’t be surprised if you see one of your quotes show up on our site in the near future! Please let us know if you plan on attending the show at The Blind Tiger and we’ll be happy to guest list you guys again. See you soon, Josh Daniels Charlotte

Contempt

I am disappointed that YES! Weekly chose to mischaracterize many of the facts surrounding the firing of Mitch Johnson and allowed the mischaracterization of facts by others to go unchallenged [“Justice Department probe of GPD revealed”; March 11, 2009; by Jordan Green]. First, the article states that “the controversy hinges in part, on how Johnson characterized concerns raised by black officers about the use of photo lineups,” but then fails to quote the most controversial statements made by Mitch Johnson where he implied that the lineup was being used to target black officers. Instead, YES! Weekly focuses not on what Johnson told the public, but what Johnson says David Wray told him about the lineup. Nowhere in the article is it mentioned that Johnson did tell the public or at the very least strongly suggest that the lineup was being used to target black officers. This is key to understanding the saga because Johnson later had to admit that he had no evidence to support this claim and this is one big reason why he lost credibility with some members on the City Council and the public. Why YES! Weekly chose to ignore the sensational claims of Mitch Johnson and instead imply that his remarks about David Wray’s “failure to act,” as he put it, were the source of this controversy is baffling. Next, you quote [former Greensbor City Council member] Tom Phillips as saying, “These bloggers keep bringing up that Mitch admitted under oath that he didn’t know exactly how the ‘black book’ was used.” Phillips is wrong. Mitch Johnson didn’t admit under oath that he didn’t know exactly how the “black book” was used. That is a mischaracterization of Johnson’s answer. What Johnson did say under penalty of perjury when asked if the city had any documents or recordings that indicate any other use of the “black Book” other than to solve or prevent a violation of the law, was that the city “is not aware of any documents or recordings… that indicate any other use of the [‘black book’]… other than to solve or prevent an alleged violation of the law.” Johnson didn’t say he didn’t know exactly how it was used at all. He admitted that the only use he was aware of was for the legitimate purpose of solving or preventing a violation of the law and was not aware of any evidence to the contrary. Johnson could not reconcile this admission with his earlier public statements that were omitted for some reason in the YES! Weekly article where he said in reference to the “black book”: “If I was a black officer, I would feel damn uncomfortable.” Johnson also told Lorraine Ahearn of the News & Record that the “black book” was used on “numerous instances” to target black officers. In fact, in the very same article by Ahearn, she writes, “Wray countered in a written statement that the black three-ring binder had only been compiled and used to identify a suspect in a single case: A prostitute’s complaint that a police officer groped and sexually assaulted her during a strip search last January.” Wray’s explanation back then is exactly what Johnson admitted to under oath over two years later. Mitch Johnson spent two years telling the public that Wray was wrong and claiming a nefarious use of the photo lineup only to admit when forced to under penalty of perjury that Wray was right all along and he (Johnson) had no evidence to the contrary. I question why YES! Weekly left this information out of the article in what appears to be an intentional conflation of the real issues. To quote your own editorial on the subject of Mitch Johnson’s firing, the article reads like it was “written by journalists with stated agendas that do not necessarily jibe with the whole, unvarnished truth.”

Sam Spagnola Oak Ridge

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