Internet for Everyone Town Hall Meeting

An amazing 70% of Black Americans lack basic access to
broadband internet. This digital divide means that Black folks are
disproportionately excluded from opportunities to build knowledge,
wealth, and community in the 21st century.

On Saturday March 7th, our allies in the InternetforEveryone.org
initiative are convening a special town hall meeting in Durham. The
goal is to hold the Obama administration to their pledge to create true
broadband in every community in America. Your discussions will shape a
national plan to achieve a more open, affordable and fast Internet for
everyone.
This event is free, but only 250 people can participate. Click here to reserve your seat today:

WHAT: InternetforEveryone.org town hall meeting
WHEN: Saturday, March 7, 2009, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00p.m.
WHERE: Durham Marriott Convention Center Grand Ballroom
201 Foster Street Durham, N.C. 27701

The new leadership in Washington needs to know that universal access
to a fast, affordable and open Internet is essential to our survival as
a nation. It’s urgent that we begin this conversation right now.
Only 30% of African-American homes have subscribed to high-speed
internet, compared with 55% of White households. Millions of Americans
still stand on the wrong side of the digital divide. And the damages —
economic, social and political — are hurting us all. Getting everyone
connected would translate into greater participation in our democracy,
millions of new jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars in increased
economic activity for the United States.

We need your help and commitment to get this conversation started.
This weekend’s town hall meeting will include roundtable and group
discussions and inspiring speakers. As a member of ColorOfChange.org,
you bring a critical understanding of the power of the internet to
improve the lives of Black folks and our allies. We encourage you to
attend to make sure that our concerns are represented in this important
discussion.

Click here to RSVP: http://www.colorofchange.org/freepress-nc

Sidberry Family

Sidberry Family, New Hanover County File No. 03 SP 0726

Two of 19 Sidberry heirs filed a partition action relating to
property that had been in their family since 1871. The property
consisted of 8.8 acres in Wilmington, New Hanover County near Market
Street. It was described as “virtually undeveloped land in an area that
has been developed for both commercial and residential purposes” in the
pleadings. A 1911 will devised the property to the Sidberry and the
Wallace children. However, the Wallace children have not been heard of
since 1911. Nevertheless, through the partition action the property was
sold for $495,000 and $254,652.47 was placed in a trust account with
the clerk of court for the unknown heirs of the Wallace children.
Before the remaining funds were distributed among the Sidberry heirs,
who have been taking care of the property for the last 90 years,
$21,546 was given to the attorneys, $3,000 to the commissioner, and
$49,500 for real estate commission. The Sidberrys originally sought to
clarify that one of them could place a trailer on the property. Today
they believe they have been dispossessed of their rightful inheritance
and have retained counsel to seek to recover the amount placed in trust
for the unknown heirs.

Partition Sales and Black Land Loss

Partitions come in two forms, partition in-kind or a partition sale. A partition in-kind physically divides the property among owners. The law in most states provides that this method of partition is preferred. North Carolina’s statutes, for example, states that the court shall order the sale of property only where it finds by preponderance of the evidence that an actual physical partition cannot be made without substantial injury to any interested party. N.C.G.S. 46-22(a) (emphasis added). Substantial injury is further defined as, “the fair market value of each share in an in-kind partition would be materially less than the share of each cotenant in the money equivalent …obtained from the sale of the whole, and if an in-kind division would result in material impairment of the cotenant’s rights.” N.C.G.S. 46-22(b). In practice, however, partition in-kind appears less favored by judges.

The quicker partition sale, which sends the property to the auction block, allows ownership to vest in the highest bidder. Partition sales are thought to be one of the primary causes of involuntary black land loss in recent times. The reason is that those who can afford to purchase property on the open market are more often developers with deep pockets instead of cash poor families. Individuals purchasing heirs’ property off the auction block can pay more cash for the property; but, it is those whose heritage is tied to the lands who attach the deepest value. Partition sales separate families from their heritage and their homes. If heirs’ property is purchased by an outside party for development, those tenants living on the land are displaced. At this point, heirs’ property intersects with issues of fair and affordable housing. Families, generally having limited income, may find themselves without a home and in need of affordable housing.

Partition sales can have devastating effects on heirs’ property and fair housing. It is important, therefore, that heirs’ property be identified. If those persons with an ownership interest can be identified, educated, and guided through the problems associated with heirs’ property, their heritage may be secured and ramifications effecting fair housing avoided. For these reasons the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, beginning in June 2008, conducted research to determine the extent to which heirs’ property, partition sales, and black land loss is occurring in Orange County, North Carolina.

Narrative of SCSJ’s Orange County Heirs’ Property Study
(Part of Appendix 1, with maps)

Freeman Beach

http://www.savefreemanbeach.com

Freeman Beach, LLC v. Freeman Heirs, New Hanover County File No. 08 SP 1038

In the 20th century, Freeman Beach was well‐known as the beach,
across from Seabreeze, where African Americans could enjoy the ocean
front. Present‐day Freeman family members have many memories of their
ancestors fishing from the beach and enjoying the natural beauty of the
area. The City of Carolina Beach has converted 143 acres of the
ocean‐front beach to a Park known as Freeman Park.

In dispute in this action are approximately 180 acres of undeveloped
waterfront property at the northern end of Carolina Beach. The original
owner of the land was a man named Alexander Freeman. He is remembered
today as a notable free black man during slavery times and an
incredibly brilliant entrepreneur‐agriculturist. Unlike many of his
era, Alexander Freeman created a Will in 1854. Alexander’s Will left
the 185 acres he owned to his son, Robert Bruce Freeman. Upon
Alexander’s death, which is believed to be sometime around the beginning or during
the Civil War, Robert Bruce Freeman became the owner in fee simple at
the approximate age of 24. During his life, Robert Bruce Freeman took
two wives, Catherine Ann Davis and Lena Swain. In total, he fathered
possibly 19 or 20 children between the two marriages. When Robert later
died intestate in 1902, the property was divided between all of his
children and his second wife.

The partition action is filed by a developer, who claims to own
approximately 72% interest in the land through what appears to have
been a judgment on a defaulted loan in the 1940’s by some of Robert
Freeman’s heirs, and through very recent purchases of other heirs’
interests. The remaining family members are looking for a way to
preserve something of their heritage and keep some portion of the land
undeveloped.

The clerk appointed a guardian selected by the Petitioner, to
represent the unknown heirs as well as known heirs, of Robert Bruce
Freeman.

287g and Secure Communties

287g and Secure Communites are programs of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency that allows local police officers, like sheriffs’ deputies and city police officers, to enforce federal immigration law by entering into agreements with the federal agency. As part of this program, federal and local agencies can enter into agreements, known as “MOU’s”, promoted as ways to remove dangerous felons from the country. However, most of the people deported under these agreements were arrested for driving without a license or other minor offenses.
Currently there are 63 active 287(g) MOU’s in 20 states. 39 of the MOU’s are in southern states.
* North Carolina has more 287(g) counties than any other state.
* 70,000 people have been deported under this program since January 2006.
* In North Carolina, from January through September 2008, of the approximately 3,000 people placed in removal proceedings as a result of this program, 56% were charged with motor vehicle offenses, including no operators’ license and DWI.
Resources:
The Policies and Politics of Local Immigration Enforcement Laws by the NC ACLU and UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law
287(g) and other ICE ACCESS Programs in 2008 by SCSJ’s Marty Rosenbluth

Investigating Human Trafficking in North Carolina's Farmworker Camps


SCSJ is collaborating with Student Action with Farmworkers to host a legal intern with their “Into the Fields” program this summer. The intern will train other SAF interns on markers for human trafficking so that they are able to recognize them in their work in the field. The legal intern will also create a resource guide for partner agencies to provide them with current information about resources available to address the problem.
SAF has a tradition of creating culturally-relevant theater pieces during their summer programs that teach migrant workers about health issues, workplace safety, and their legal rights. Our legal intern will develop a popular education theater presentation on human trafficking that will be performed at farmworker camps. The goal is to make sure that farmworker communities are aware of this issue, can recognize it when it occurs, and know what steps to take to address it.
Finally, the legal intern will be in a position to have a general legal liason role. When they encounter legal issues of any nature, or when other SAF interns do, our intern will be available to investigate potential remedies and obtain appropriate legal assistance for farmworkers.

No OLF

NEW RESOURCE: A new study on fresh water mussels in the Chowan River.

SCSJ is representing Citizens Against OLF (Outlying Landing Field) in Gates County.

An OLF is used for Navy pilots to practice landing in conditions similar to landing on an aircraft carrier. The Navy attempted (and failed) to place the OLF in Washington and Beaufort counties. Citizens in theses counties organized against the OLF and succeeded!

Gates County is a poor, rural, tightly-knit community near the Virginia border in eastern North Carolina. The construction of an OLF would mean the loss and destruction of centuries-old family farms. Gates County is home to incredible species diversity and many threatened species that are indigenous to North Carolina. These habitats would be permanently disrupted by the construction of an OLF.

In spite of its plans to build an OLF in a NC community, Navy representatives have stated publicly that an OLF is “not necessarily needed.”

Gates County residents are asking for help and support from citizens across North Carolina to stop the OLF from being constructed – which would dispossess and dislocate many in the community.