Politics & Government

NAACP denounces N.C. GOP's mailer as racist

RALEIGH — The leader of the North Carolina branch of the NAACP is calling on the state Republican Party to denounce an inaccurate mailer attacking Democrats, saying the ad is racist.

The Rev. William Barber, the state's NAACP chairman, spoke Thursday outside the headquarters of the N.C. Republican Party to demand the "repudiation and retraction" of a mailer targeting Democratic legislators over their support for the Racial Justice Act.

Approved last year, the act allows for the sentence of a death row inmate to be converted to life without the possibility of parole if the inmate can show that his or her race played a role in the sentence.

The mailer arrived in mailboxes across the state during the past two weeks. It features photos of two men from North Carolina's death row, one black and one white, and inaccurately claims that the Racial Justice Act would allow "activist judges to weaken the sentence of death row inmates ... making some eligible for release immediately."

The Republican Party has not said how many households received the mailer or precisely how many Democratic legislators were targeted.

Barber said the GOP mailer intentionally mischaracterizes the law by suggesting murderers would be released to move in next door to law-abiding voters.

"It's a big lie," Barber said. "It's racist, and it's cynical. When you deliberately lie and deliberately distort a law intended to fight racial injustice, that in itself is racist."

State GOP Chairman Tom Fetzer refused to comment this week on whether the mailer produced by his staff is accurate, instead attempting to shift the focus to a Democratic Party mailer that inaccurately suggested that Republican legislative candidate Buck Newton of Wilson had been arrested on drug charges. Those charges were dismissed in what Newton describes as a case of mistaken identity.

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