by Jordan Green

Items from across the Triad and beyond


Residents of Greensboro and Winston- Salem expressed distress and sadness in the wake of a Florida jury’s acquittal over the weekend of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who shot and killed unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.

A protest in front of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro drew about 175 people on Sunday evening. Demonstrators signed a poster stating, “We are all Trayvon Martin; the whole system is guilty,” carried signs with messages such as, “The life of a child should be respected,” and chanted, “No justice, no peace; no racist police.” Some marched on the new Guilford County Jail, their spirits buoyed by percussion from the Cakalak Thunder drum corps.

Jermaine Taylor attended the protest with his wife and three children, including a 2-year-old son.

“Just to know I’m raising a young, black male, it feels like my son is not safe,” he said. “I don’t feel safe with him being by himself. I feel that the justice system failed us [by] not allowing all the trial evidence to be heard. I don’t know what guilty looks like. [Zimmerman] stereotyped [Martin] as looking like he was up to no good. I don’t want my son to be on the bad end of looking guilty.”

Rallies seeking justice for Trayvon Martin were also held in Winston-Salem and Yadkinville.


The first week of filing for Winston-Salem City Council seats has drawn enough candidates to set up competitive primaries for mayor and half of the eight wards.

Gardenia Henley will challenge incumbent Allen Joines for the Democratic nomination in the mayoral race.

Joycelyn Johnson is seeking a rematch with incumbent Derwin Montgomery in the Democratic primary in the East Ward.

Challenger Howard Hudson takes on incumbent Robert C. Clark in the Republican primary for the West Ward.

Incumbent James Taylor Jr. has drawn a challenge from Bill Tatum in the Democratic primary for the Southeast Ward.

Republican Mike Hunger also wants the seat.

As of press time, Democrat Vivian Burke had not filed for reelection in the Northeast Ward, but two Democratic hopefuls, Brenda Diggs and Jemmise Bowen have entered the race. Republican Michael Owens also filed for the seat.

Democrat Dan Besse has drawn a challenge from perennial Republican candidate Donald T. Shaw.

As of press time, Jeff MacIntosh was running unopposed for the Northwest Ward seat being vacated by fellow Democrat Wanda Merschel, and incumbent Democrats Molly Leight and Denise D. Adams were the only candidates to file in the South and North wards respectively.

Filing for all seats on Winston-Salem City Council and Greensboro City Council closes on Friday at noon.


Several candidates have filed to run for Greensboro City Council, and some of them are names you’re apt to recognize. Mayor Robbie Perkins and at-large Councilwoman Marikay Abuzuaiter both filed to run for the same offices again. Joseph Landis, a newcomer to Greensboro politics, also put his name in for the at-large race. There are currently seven candidates signed up to run at large, including incumbent Yvonne Johnson, former council member Mike Barber, Jean Brown, Chris Lawyer and Sal Leone. For now, Tony Wilkins is the only person running for District 5 and Tigress McDaniel is the sole candidate running for District 1.

Incumbent Jim Kee and challenger Jamal Fox have filed in District 2. District 3 representative Zack Matheny is defending his seat against Wendell Roth [see story on page TK]. And former mayor Bill Knight is challenging incumbent Nancy Hoffmann in District 4.

Perkins and challenger George Hartzman are the only people who already filed to run for mayor, though at-large Councilwoman Nancy Vaughan said she will run and stickers and magnets for her mayoral bid have already appeared in a few scattered places across town.


A new poll by Public Policy Polling finds that Malcolm Graham and Alma Adams lead a crowded field of Democratic candidates seeking to replace US Rep. Mel Watt, the 12 th District congressman who has been nominated by President Obama to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Graham, a state senator from Charlotte, received 31 percent of respondents’ support in polling, while Adams, a state House member from Greensboro, garnered 22 percent. No other candidates broke 10 percent.

George Battle III, who serves as general counsel for Charlotte- Mecklenburg Schools, and NC Rep. Beverly Earle of Charlotte, each drew 8 percent, while NC Rep. Marcus Brandon of High Point carried 5 percent of the vote. Mecklenburg County Commission Chair Harold Cogdell and NC Rep. Rodney Moore of Charlotte each polled 3 percent. NC Rep. Ed Hanes Jr. of Winston-Salem, along with Torre Jessup and Avery Staley came away with 1 percent.

Sentencing for nine Latin Kings and an associate tried as part of a criminal racketeering enterprise has been scheduled for mid- August.

Jorge Cornell, inca, or leader, of the North Carolina Latin Kings from 2005 to 2011, along with his biological brother, Russell Kilfoil, are scheduled to be sentenced at the Hiram H. Ward federal building in downtown Winston-Salem on Aug. 14 at 10 a.m. Russell Kilfoil is also known as Jonathan Hernandez.

Cornell and Kilfoil were found guilty of racketeering by a federal jury in November 2012.

Ernesto Wilson, a Latin Kings associate who was convicted with Cornell and Kilfoil will be sentenced on Aug. 13 at 10 a.m. at the same location, along with Wesley Williams and Steaphan Acencio-Vasquez. Williams and Acencio-Vasquez pleaded guilty before the case went to trial, but did not testify.

Four others, Jason Paul Yates, Marcelo Ysrael Perez, Luis Rosa, Richard Robinson and Charles Moore, will be sentenced on Aug. 15 at 10 a.m. at the federal court building. Yates, a rival of Cornell for leadership of the North Carolina Latin Kings, was to be tried separately because his original lawyer was not prepared to represent him with the other defendants. He subsequently pleaded guilty. Perez, Rosa, Robinson and Moore pleaded guilty and testified for the government.

Three other defendants, Samuel Velasquez, Irvin Vasquez and Randolph Kilfoil, who is also Cornell’s younger brother, were acquitted by the jury at the conclusion of the 2012 trial. A racketeering charge against a fourth defendant, Carlos Coleman, was dismissed by US District Court Judge James A. Beaty Jr.

Cornell founded the North Carolina Latin Kings in Greensboro in 2005 after relocating from New York with his family three years earlier. As a member of the New York Latin Kings in the mid- to late 1990s, he was strongly influenced by Antonio Fernandez, a leader known as King Tone. Cornell later recounted that he received authorization from the national leadership of the Latin Kings in Chicago to start the North Carolina organization.

After going public to protest police harassment in 2008, the North Carolina Latin Kings under Cornell’s leadership aligned themselves with an interracial group of pastors. Cornell made two unsuccessful bids for Greensboro City Council, and his organization remained a fixture on the city’s social justice scene until a federal raid in December 2011 led to the jailing of most of the organization’s membership.

CORRECTIONLast week’s cover story, “Strange lights in the sky,” incorrectly attributed the quote, “Is it so crazy to think that even one of the billions of stars out there has a planet that supports life?” to journalist Leslie Kean. She did not, in fact, say that during her presentation. YES! Weekly regrets the error.