The Orange County Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution condemning the presence of hate groups on the streets of Hillsborough at its work session on Sept. 23.
The resolution refers to the Ku Klux Klan demonstration that took place on Aug. 24 in front of the Hillsborough courthouse. It received national attention after North Carolina Rep. Graig Meyer posted photos on Twitter, which presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke responded to.
The Board of Education Vice Chair, Tony McKnight, read the resolution to the board and community at the meeting on Monday prior to the vote.
"Therefore, be it resolved that the Orange County Schools Board of Education strongly oppose the activities of the Ku Klux Klan, reject white nationalists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis, and we urge the Orange County Schools community to continue to affirm the inherent worth and dignity of all people," the resolution read.
Being a diverse school system comprised of around 44 percent non-white students, including Asian, Black and Hispanic, the resolution stated that the group’s actions made many members of the school system community feel threatened.
“Orange County Schools prides itself on being a diverse school system,” the resolution stated. “We support the personal identities of all our schools' staff and students and strives to uplift the dignity of all of the people we serve.”
In August, KKK demonstrators were dressed in white robes and hoods, while others wore collared shirts adorned with the group’s logo. Protesters held confederate flags and American flags.
Although the demonstration did not turn physical, the Orange County Sheriff's Office later planned to arrest two demonstrators for violating a N.C. firearm law that prohibits carrying during a demonstration, rally or protest.
Members of the community, however, were concerned with how the police handled the demonstrators, by simply escorting them to their car.
The Hate-Free Schools Coalition and Hillsborough Progressives Taking Action constructed a joint statement in response to the KKK on Aug. 28.
“We believe that Black and Brown people, Immigrants, Jews and Muslims, LGBTQ folks and people with different abilities are what make America great,” the statement said. “Those who proclaim this country is for white Protestants only are expressing more than free speech — they are spewing dangerous and threatening ideas that directly endanger our friends and family and the progress made by those who have marched before us.”
The two organizations organized a "March for a Hate-Free Hillsborough" held on Aug. 31 in downtown Hillsborough.
On behalf of the Board, Chairperson Will Atherton denounced any acts of intimidation and praised the diversity of the Orange County Schools system.
“We will be vigilant to keep the safety and security of our students, staff, parents and community members at all our schools,” Atherton said in an email. “We will continue to celebrate our differences that make our community resilient.”
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