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by Jordan Green

News and views from inside the media bubble’ 

OMBUDSMAN MAKES RAPID RESPONSE TO CHECKPOINT

A press release hit in-boxes for the Greensboro Police Department’s distribution list at 9:28 a.m. on Election Day. “Traffic check point, 2200 block Phillips Ave.,” it read. The operation set up between Drexel Road and Lombardy Street and ran from 10 a.m. to noon.” Roch Smith Jr., ombudsman at large, had tackled it on his blog before the officers had even cleared the orange cones. The headline for the post captured the implications of the event: “Greensboro police checkpoint. On Election Day. In minority neighborhood. What are they thinking?” Smith elaborated: “The checkpoint is between public housing Claremont Courts (and homes north) and those residents’ voting place at Peeler Recreation Center to the south.” Next paragraph: “This would be a bad move in any neighborhood on Election Day. That it is adjacent to a minority occupied public housing project makes it more odious as reminiscent of Jim Crow voter intimidation tactics.” As a reporter who tries to exercise at least a modicum of responsibility, I thought I would place a call to Sgt. KM Moore to ask what, indeed, they were thinking. About four hours later, I received a phone call from Lt. James Hinson, who said my inquiry had been bumped up to him. Asked to explain the department’s rationale for running the checkpoint, Hinson indicated he would need to confer with the chief of police before making any comment. Hinson later called back and indicated the chief could be reached through his executive assistant. Calls placed to Chief Ken Miller, Lt. Hope Newkirk and Assistant City Manager Michael Speedling did not yield answers by press time

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