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The Daily Tar Heel

Carrboro Mayor Damon Seils signs mayor's compact to combat discrimination, hate

"The best tool at our disposal is the vaccine," says Carrboro mayor Damon Seils. Seils poses for a portrait in Carrboro on Thursday, Feb. 17, hours after a press conference where NC Governor Roy Cooper encouraged local schools and governors to end mask mandates.

Along with dozens of other mayors from across the country, Carrboro Mayor Damon Seils signed the Mayors’ Compact to Combat Hate and Extremism, according to a Sept. 16 press release from the Town of Carrboro. 

The Mayors’ Compact to Combat Hate and Extremism is a collaborative effort by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Anti-Defamation League. It was developed in 2017 in response to an overall rise in hate in the U.S.

The compact’s goals of reducing incidents of hate and extremism are laid out in its 10 key components. These include rejecting all forms of bigotry, denouncing all acts of hate, elevating anti-bias programs in schools and supporting and building trust with local communities impacted by hate and extremism.

Mayors who sign the compact also commit to celebrating diversity in their communities, ensuring that civil rights laws are properly enforced and strengthened when needed and protecting public safety while defending freedom of speech.

The compact’s goal is to reduce overall rates of extremist violence and bigotry through a large network of local leaders, each working on the city level to protect the communities they know best.

When the U.S. Conference of Mayors contacted Seils to ask him to sign the compact, he said he was happy to do so.

“In my mind, the commitment is really in line with our priorities,” Seils said. “Carrboro has a certain reputation for being a diverse and inclusive community. That’s not something that happens by itself. It’s something that we have to continually, ourselves, do.”

Seils is not the only local mayor to sign the compact. Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger has also signed onto the compact, along with three other North Carolina mayors: Mayor Vi Alexander Liles of Charlotte, Mayor Don Hardy of Kinston and Mayor Allen Joines of Winston-Salem.

Hemminger said the compact affirms American mayors’ commitment to serving the full diversity of their communities and creating unity on the local level and beyond.

“When mayors come together across the nation it’s really impactful and makes a huge statement about our values and things we’re working on,” she said.

Hemminger also said the Town of Chapel Hill is working to improve its ability to collaborate with communities who do not speak English as a first language, including collaborating with refugee communities to ensure proper communication.

“They’re the ones who helped us understand that we needed to do better training of our public safety officers, our bus drivers, and people who interact with the public and that we need to publish in many different languages,” Hemminger said.

Seils said his commitment to the compact will have visible results, including playing a role in the Town’s first comprehensive plan that aims to increase racial equity in Carrboro. The Carrboro Town Council also established a Community Safety Task Force in 2021, which Seils said will help the community rethink policing and community safety services.

Monica Macharios, a first-year student at UNC, said she would only appreciate the compact if real action is taken by community leaders.

“I am a little bit skeptical at this point of my life of compacts that are like, ‘Oh, racism, bigotry, discrimination is bad,’ and then they don’t have comprehensive plans on how they’re going to alleviate those problems,” she said.

@DTHCityState | 

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