The Good: Durham Clergy United

A week after conservative churches successfully sued Governor Cooper to force the state to allow churches to allow indoor services, a group of black pastors and allies affiliated with Durham Clergy United called a press conference in Durham to talk about why they wouldn’t be reopening just yet. The quick version, as described by Pastor Jerome Washington of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church: “Our worship is not confined to a building. As a matter of fact, we did not need the governor to tell us to close our churches. Our love for our people told us to close our churches.”

African Americans have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, they pointed out. 

Calvin Brooks, who pastors the Mt. Zion United Church of Christ in Henderson, said his small church had already seen two deaths. “It is important that we use our platform as ministers to talk to our laypeople and get them to understand the seriousness of this virus, and for us to take to mind what the governor is saying,” he said. “We’re not looking to go back into services right now because we need to make sure we are safe.”

The Bad: Alamance County attorney Clyde Albright

Look, we get it. You’ve been cooped up for weeks, you might have lost your job, your favorite bar is closed, and you’re tired of all these so-called experts with their so-called models telling you to wear a mask and avoid crowded spaces. What about your freedom? So when the owner of the Ace Speedway in northwest Alamance County announces that he’s got to open in open defiance of Governor Cooper’s executive order, packing in mask-less people from all over the state to watch cars race for $12 a pop, we get the urge to go. Besides, you’re making a statement: Don’t tread on me, Mr. Government Man. 

One man’s statement, of course, could be another man’s death sentence, and just because you want to pretend the inconvenient pandemic is over doesn’t mean it actually is. This is why the state grants the governor the power to forbid these types of gatherings in an emergency—so that the whims of the masses don’t lead to morgues full of corpses. 

Except, it seems, in Alamance County, where county attorney Clyde Albright deemed himself both public health expert and constitutional scholar and decided that Ace Speedway could do whatever the hell it wants. If you look at pictures from the stands, you’ll see, well, white people, yes, but also plenty of obvious comorbidities—age, obesity, things that make people especially susceptible to COVID-19. 

If any of them catch the virus, and if any of them die, their blood will be on Clyde Albright’s hands. 

The Awful: Adam Smith

Who would have imagined that the leader of the ReOpenNC movement is married to a would-be terrorist who boasts about his willingness to kill people to resist the “New World Order” that is forcing us to not die from a pandemic? Oh, right. Everyone. 

In a string of Facebook Live videos posted on Friday, Adam Smith, the husband of Ashley Smith, said: “But are we willing to kill people? Are we willing to lay down our lives? We have to say, ‘Yes.’ We have to say, ‘Yes.’ Is that violence? Is that terrorism? No, it’s not terrorism. [Editor’s note. Yes, it is, dumbass.] I’m not trying to strike fear in people by saying, ‘I’m going to kill you.’ I’m gonna say, ‘If you bring guns, I’m gonna bring guns. If you’re armed with this, we’re going to be armed with this.’”

The best part of this episode? This part from Raw Story, which broke the news: “At the outset of the final video, he interrupted his testimonial to accept a bag of fast food from a restaurant worker through a drive-thru window. ‘I believe God’s drawing a plumb line,’ he said. ‘And he’s wanting us to choose which side we’ll be on … Had to grab me a little grub—which of history we’ll be on.’”

Adam Smith, by the way, was part of Meal Team 6, the “Boogaloo” group of not-protesters (according to the Raleigh Police Department) that carried weapons around downtown and then ate lunch at Subway earlier this month. Of course he was.

Contact editor in chief Jeffrey C. Billman at 

DEAR READERS, WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW MORE THAN EVER. Support independent local journalism by joining the INDY Press Club today. Your contributions will keep our fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle, coronavirus be damned.