I’ve been reticent to weigh in on the ongoing dispute over the downtown Raleigh Christmas parade, simply because I have a hard time getting worked up over these things. But now that the grievances have reached something of a fever pitch, here we are.

  • The backstory: Last month, WRAL lost its longtime contract to sponsor the Christmas parade to its rival WTVD. But then WRAL announced that it was going to broadcast Saturday’s parade anyway. To the Greater Raleigh Merchants Association, which puts on the parade, this lowers the value of future parade sponsorships and thus imperils future parades. The GRMA then disallowed WRAL from having floats in the parade, ostensibly because WRAL missed a deadline. And then, last week, the GRMA forbid WRAL cameras from any floats or entries in the parade.
  • On Monday, the GRMA sent out a missive in which it argued that WRAL had failed to live up to contractual obligations—though its director, Jennifer Martin, refused to specify what those unmet obligations were—and had “retaliated” against the GRMA since losing the contract. It also says WRAL is “taking away viewership from the official broadcast for its own financial gain and in an effort, we believe, calculated to harm GRMA and retaliate for its loss of the parade contract.”

WHAT IT MEANS: I don’t really have a dog in this fight, but come on, people. Is WRAL acting childish by airing the broadcast even though it lost the contract? Yeah. Is the GRMA overreacting? Sure seems that way. Does any of this really matter? Eh.


A weird thing happened in Durham yesterday. At a court appearance early in the morning, attorney Scott Holmes, who is representing the Defend Durham demonstrators charged with toppling the Confederate monument in August, announced that District Attorney Roger Echols had agreed to drop the remaining felony charges. But then, a short while later, Echols came out with a statement that no, in fact, this hadn’t happened and the charges were still pending. So let’s try to figure it out.

  • Echols’s statement: “I wasn’t in Court but I understand Attorney Holmes made comments about felonies being dismissed or off the table or something to that effect. Mr. Holmes may be responding or speaking about what he expects to be the case based on conversations with this office. Unfortunately or fortunately I cannot talk about what our conversations have been or even what our negotiations have been. That would even include confirming whatever he’s said or denying it’s accuracy. Of course I don’t know what has been said/ or not said in court by those prosecutors representing the State.”
  • “Three people have already seen the charges against them dropped because there was ‘no visual evidence’ that they participated in damaging the statue. Twelve people had been charged with damaging the statue, and another three are facing charges related to a spontaneous rally against an expected KKK appearance on August 18. The cases have been continued until December 5.”
  • “In a press release, the North Carolina Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans says it is outraged and disgusted by the prospect of felony charges against the demonstrators (who the group called ‘self-styled communists’ and ‘immature demagogues’) being dropped. Members also disagree with Durham County Commissioners’ recent valuation of the statue.”

WHAT IT MEANS: My best guess is that Holmes did, in fact, talk to someone in the DA’s office, but he jumped the gun on the announcement. Still, I’d imagine there’s likely to be a plea deal announced in the next week in which the felony charges are dropped. Echols doesn’t want to side with the Sons of the Confederate Veterans over the activists who did something that, quite frankly, a lot of Durham’s public officials approved of, at least morally. There’s not a lot of community outrage centered on these folks—at least so far as I’ve seen, beyond the angry white supremacists in the comments section—and Echols is likely to be sensitive to that.

MEANWHILE: Defend Durham then went a weird step further in a press conference, announcing that “it is launching its own ‘commission of inquiry’ to investigate what it called obstruction of justice by the General Assembly in passing a 2015 law that protects Confederate monuments; collusion by elected officials to target poor communities and communities of color; and negligent homicide by Sheriff Mike Andrews for multiple deaths in the jail. The group says it plans to gather testimony and evidence and present it to a ‘people’s tribunal,’ where those accused ‘will be given a full opportunity to present their own defense.’” Hello, Jacobins.

Related:Students and faculty at UNC protested against both Silent Sam and the university’s use of an undercover officer to monitor them.

This post was excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.