Good: Durham Police Department

In so many cities across the country, the protests sparked by the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis turned chaotic, destructive, even violent: tear gas and rubber bullets, looting, and vandalism. But not in Durham. In a city known for activist leftist politics, about 300 demonstrators protested without incident, arrests, or reports of vandalism. Much of the credit, of course, goes to the organizers themselves, who were determined not to “tear up our own community,” as organizer Skip Gibbs told The News & Observer. But save some praise for the Durham Police Department, too. Unlike other law enforcement agencies, which geared up for these demonstrations like they were Russian invasions, the Durham police blocked off streets, cleared intersections, kept their distance, and took care not to escalate. Amazing how that worked. 

Bad: Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin

To some degree, the controversy in which Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin found herself last week wasn’t her fault. It’s a system problem. There’s no reason that the position of mayor of Raleigh—a fast-growing city of about a half-million people—should be “part-time,” especially when its responsibilities are anything but. Considering the “part-time” job pays just $24,000 a year, such a designation forces the officeholder, if he or she is not independently wealthy or retired, to hold a “real” job, which can raise the possibility of conflicts of interest, particularly if that employer does business with the city. That was the case with Holt Brothers Foundation, Baldwin’s previous employer, for which she did marketing and ran the nonprofit. And it’s even more the case with Barnhill Contracting, where she’ll be the director of Triangle business development. Baldwin says she’ll recuse herself whenever Barnhill’s on the agenda, and she no doubt will. But you can’t help but wonder whether the city’s staff will look a bit more favorably on Barnhill’s proposals now when ranking bids for contracts. Besides, the optics are terrible: As the INDY first reported, a few weeks before a Barnhill recruiter contacted her, the city council unanimously awarded Barnhill a more than $6 million contract to resurface some city streets

Awful: Law enforcement in Raleigh

Early Monday morning, Wake County sheriff’s deputies walked by Ruby Deluxe downtown; owner Timothy Lemuel was outside with water and snacks to hand to protesters. A cop yelled at him to go home. “This is my business. I rent this place. I rent here,” Lemuel protested, pointing out that he had a legal right to be where he was. Then the cops opened fire: rubber bullets and flashbangs, per a video posted on Facebook. Another video clearly shows an officer shooting a rubber bullet into a protester’s back and then tackling him from behind as he flees a cloud of tear gas. WRAL footage from Saturday evening around 6:55—before there were any reports of rioting—show the police shooting tear gas into what looks to be a crowd of peaceful protesters. The next night, the same thing happened: The Raleigh police tear-gassed peaceful protesters, then claimed on social media that the protesters wouldn’t make way for an emergency vehicle. 

We don’t mention this to absolve looters and vandals of responsibility for the damage they did, including to the INDY’s Raleigh office, which was destroyed. But where Durham police de-escalated, the cops in Raleigh escalated—with terrible consequences. 

Contact editor in chief Jeffrey C. Billman at 

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