A Republican Party stalwart and mayoral candidate in Durham’s past municipal elections, Jahnmaud Lane stood a better chance of peddling fireballs and flame-breathing dragons in hell than securing an electoral victory in North Carolina’s bluest city.
But that did not stop the right-winger, after a dismal performance during last year’s October primaries where he won nearly three percent of the vote, with fewer than 600 voters casting their ballots on his behalf, from pushing forward with his political ambitions. And he almost secured a win.
Earlier this month, three city council members—Mayor Elaine O’Neal, DeDreana Freeman, and newcomer Monique Holsey-Hyman—all cast votes in favor of Lane becoming a member of the city’s Human Relations Commission.
The multi-racial, 17-member commission is an integral part of the Bull City’s political infrastructure that works to “promote equitable and proportionate representation of all traditionally under-represented groups on public boards and agencies,” according to the city’s website.
Over the years, the commission has served as public forum during times of racial tensions, and to address issues such as housing discrimination and unfair immigration policies. Indeed, the Human Relations Commission provided a public forum for the family of Wildin David Guillen Acosta, the former Riverside High School student, in 2016 after he was released from a federal immigration detention center in Georgia.
The commission has also weighed in with resolutions condemning antisemitism, structural racism, white supremacy, Islamophobia, and raids by U.S. Immigration, Customs, and Enforcement.
A News & Observer editorial from last week noted that the group, whose members serve three-year terms, is “part of the enforcement mechanism of a non-discrimination ordinance” the Bull City enacted in 2021 to protect LGBTQ residents and “other marginalized community members.”
Meanwhile, with the ongoing, powerful revelations of what took place in the U.S. Capitol currently being made public with televised hearings by the U.S. Select House Committee on the January 6 Attack, Lane—who insists that white, straight Christian men are solely responsible for everything from ending slavery, desegregation in the public schools, to women’s voting rights—was one vote away from gaining a seat on the commission.
Then, at least one of the council members learned Lane attended the so-called “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6 and attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob that urinated in the halls and smeared feces in the hallways, along with perpetrating violence that left seven people dead including two Capitol police officers who later took their own lives.
On Tuesday, at the city council’s regularly scheduled meeting, Holsey-Hyman announced that she was rescinding the vote she had cast for Lane during the June 9 work session.
“His values and approach to conflict-solving conflict with my own,” explained Holsey-Hyman about the HVAC technician and right-wing activist who participated in a rally in support of one of the biggest lies in American political history: that Donald Trump won the 2020 election by a landslide, when he lost both the popular vote and electoral college vote.
Holsey-Hyman, in a lengthy statement, said she “immediately” asked the city clerk to rescind her nomination.
“I absolutely want Durham residents to know that I am willing to welcome all different perspectives and diverse opinions, and believe they all kind of work for a better good,” Holsey-Hyman further explained. “However, I do believe working from a common set of values is necessary to move forward.”
Without mentioning Lane’s name, Holsey-Hyman concluded by saying that she “could not in good faith support someone whose values conflict deeply” with her own, the city council, and the city.
One day after the council’s work session vote, Durham council member Jillian Johnson posted on Twitter that Lane, “former candidate for Durham mayor, Trump supporter, and January 6th attendee applied for a position on the city’s Human Relations Commission. We voted on nominations yesterday at our work session. He got [three] votes.”
Someone else tweeted that Lane “needs to worry less about Durham city government and more about spending time in FCI Butner,” the federal prison.
Johnson told the INDY on Thursday that it is “completely inappropriate to appoint a right-wing insurrectionist to any position of public trust.
“He shouldn’t be anywhere near our city’s politics,” she said.
Lane’s attendance at the purported rally that turned out to be an attempt to overthrow the federal government, was fleshed out further in the N&O editorial and accompanied by a Facebook photo of Lane at the insurrection. He’s outfitted in a red T-shirt with “MagaDad” inscribed across the front atop of a hoodie, cargo-style sweatpants, and a red and white cap. He’s holding a Trump flag.
Lane could not be immediately reached for comment by the INDY, but he told former INDY staffer and current N&O editorial writer Sara Pequeño that he did not enter the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
“I was about to go inside, and I stopped,” Lane reportedly said.
Pequeño added that when she asked Lane about his support of the former president, and whether he continues to subscribe to the evidence-free claims that Donald Trump lost the 2020 election because of massive voter fraud, “Lane doubled down.”
“You have people who talk about January the 6th—mostly peaceful protests of American citizens who accidentally went into an unposted, restricted area,” Lane told the editorial writer. “What about the burning and looting from 2020?”
That’s an oft-repeated, bad-faith GOP talking point about Black Lives Matter protests that were ignited by the police murder of George Floyd.
According to a study by Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) uprisings were “remarkably nonviolent.” Moreover, researchers found that when there were instances of violence, “very often police or counterprotestors were reportedly directing it at the protestors.”
The researchers—after reviewing 7,305 BLM events—reported that nearly 97 percent of protests involved no property damage or police injuries, and in nearly 98 percent, no injuries were reported among participants, bystanders, or police.
Similarly, the nonprofit Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) reported that about 93 percent of all BLM protests were peaceful.
ACLED, which researches political violence and protests across the world, reported that between May 26, the day after George Floyd’s death, through August 22, there were more than 7,750 demonstrations linked to the BLM movement across more than 2,440 locations in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
The researchers noted that violent demonstrations were limited to fewer than 220 locations, and that in urban areas like Portland, Oregon, the violence was confined to specific city blocks rather than dispersed throughout the city.
But, hey, the orchestrated right wing never lets the truth stand in the way of whataboutisms in spite of its own well-chronicled, ham-handed attempts to destroy American democracy.
Pequeño stated what’s clear: uprisings on behalf of racial justice at home and abroad “is not the same as trying to stage a coup.”
Holsey-Hyman on Wednesday told the INDY that Lane was vying for one of six open slots on the commission.
“He was not selected,” Holsey-Hyman said.
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Follow Durham Staff Writer Thomasi McDonald on Twitter or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.