by Jane Porter
“It is a slap in the face of everyone that protects our city and our country,” says a statement from the Durham County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 2. “While Ms. Johnson is entitled to her opinion, she is an elected official and should be held to a higher standard.”
On Wednesday, Johnson said in an interview she posted the statement on her personal Facebook page after members of the U.S. House of Representatives unsuccessfully called for measures to curb gun sales to people on terrorism watch lists following the Orlando shooting in the Pulse nightclub.
“I am all about keeping guns away from dangerous people,” she wrote, “but I feel like more of us should be pointing out that the most dangerous people with guns are cops and soldiers, and that the no-fly list and FBI anti-terror efforts are seriously corrupted by entrapment, racial profiling and Islamophobia.”
Johnson’s initial post drew emails Tuesday and Wednesday from residents, current and former members of the military and law enforcement calling for her resignation and chiding her for her comments. At least three emails expressed support for her stand.
Johnson posted a clarification Wednesday morning, saying “state-sanctioned violence causes more harm” than non-state sanctioned violence.
“I believe this is true both because the approval of those in authority and often the general public gives a veneer of acceptability to actions we would otherwise condemn, but also because states have the capacity to spend huge resources equipping and funding people to use force in defense of their interests.”
The post expressed concern about incarceration rates, police-related homicide rates and how much money the United States spends on the military.
“We should not ignore these facts, or wrongly assume that those who believe that this situation is fundamentally unjust” and should not continue harboring a hatred for police and soldiers, the post states. “I certainly find a great many of the actions taken by militaries and police forces here in the U.S. and around the world extremely troubling, and I also respect the humanity of those who do not share this disagreement.”
Johnson does not believe all individual officers cause harm, she wrote in a text to a reporter, her “issue is with the institution.”
Mayor Bill Bell, a U.S. Army veteran, said he disagrees with Johnson’s initial statement but elected officials have the right to express their thoughts.
“She doesn’t speak for the council,” Bell said.
Councilman Eddie Davis said the comments may damage the relationship that council members have being trying to build with the Police Department.
“It certainly sends a signal that not all of the council members are as supportive as they ought to be,” he said.
Johnson, 34, was elected to the Durham City Council in November. She was the second-highest vote getter among six candidates vying for three at-large council seats.
A bill under consideration in the General Assembly would set a referendum on a constitutional amendment to lock in place income tax cuts made since Republicans gained full control of the legislature and governor's office in 2013. It says the income tax rate could be no more than 5.5 percent, a quarter of a percentage point lower than it is today.5. And finally, Democrats remained on the floor of the U.S. House past 6 a.m. this morning, fully nineteen hours after they first camped out there to demand a vote on gun control.
Conservatives say the limit would act as a check on too much spending by state government and help keep in place tax policies they say have boosted the state's economy in recent years.
"We think that North Carolina has gained economically just light years ahead of where we were in large part because of the tax cuts," said Donald Bryson, head of the state chapter of conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity.
Critics say the proposed constitutional amendment would limit the state's options if circumstances change, continue what they say is an imbalance in state tax policy and potentially increase the state's borrowing costs by harming its bond rating.
"In a time of emergency, there should be a number of tools available to policymakers," said Alexandra Forter Sirota, head of the Budget and Tax Center at the liberal think tank N.C. Justice Center. Under current policies, "The folks that are paying are low- and middle-income people," she said.
It would take two-thirds majorities of the House and Senate to send the bill to the voters. Only a simple majority in a November referendum would then be needed to make the tax cap part of the constitution.
Quoting a tweet from libertarian Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, who cited the very valid concern of how the terrorist watch list ban could affect due process for some Americans, many of whom have no known terror affiliation, U.S. Representative Mark Walker (R-Greensboro) let this whopper drop: