North Carolina NAACP, Columbus County NAACP Renews Call for the U.S. Department of Justice to Intervene in Columbus County as Jody Greene Remains on the Ballot, Despite Resignation
Amid new allegations about Sheriff Jody Greene, and new concerns about voter intimidation as Early Voting is underway, NC NAACP leaders are making a second request for the U.S. Department of Justice to take immediate action in Columbus County
RALEIGH, N.C. – On Thursday, October 27th, the NC NAACP, the Columbus County NAACP and Forward Justice submitted a second letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, urging officials to take immediate action and provide support in Columbus County in the wake of the evolving situation with now former sheriff, Jody Greene. New allegations of misconduct, and recent troubling actions by Greene himself, prompted NC NAACP leaders, attorneys, and advocates to renew their calls for an immediate investigation into Columbus County and for US DOJ election monitors to be deployed in the county, where early voting is already underway.
The newest letter outlines several additional instances of "willful misconduct or maladministration in office” by Mr. Greene, as outlined by District Attorney Jon David. In his amended petition for Greene’s removal, District Attorney David said that Mr. Greene “has demonstrated on numerous occasions that he is willing to misuse the power and authority inherent to the office for personal and political gain”. New allegations include:
- Mr. Greene pursued criminal charges against a County commissioner after he voted against providing pay increases and riot gear to the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office.
- Mr. Greene arrested and charged the stepfather of Jason Soles, the officer who shared the recording of him, for disorderly conduct after the stepfather told Greene to ‘grow up’.
- Engaging in an improper sexual relationship with one of his subordinates in the Sheriff’s Office.
- Failing to properly supervise his employees, particularly deputies who were working in jails, that ultimately resulted in an incarcerated individual being left with a brain injury after four other individuals beat him; it took deputies over 20 minutes to respond to the altercation.
Despite tendering his resignation on Monday, October 24 in order to put a stop to the court proceedings to remove him from office, Mr. Greene continues to deny any wrongdoing; calling the new allegations untrue and politically motivated, and continuing his campaign to be elected as Sheriff of Columbus County in the current election. During the Columbus County Agricultural Fair, October 11-16, 2022, Jody Greene was seen greeting potential voters and campaigning for re-election as sheriff, even though he has been suspended. During the fair’s parade, Greene and his wife drove an SUV with “Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene” magnet decals on its rear doors, at the front of the Sheriff’s Office convoy, blasting the song “Bad boys, bad boys, what you gonna do, what you gonna do when they come for you?” These acts by the suspended official were conspicuous and appeared to be targeted. It appeared that Greene played that specific song while parading through the fair for one purpose – to send a message of intimidation to people of color and those who are determined to bring him to justice.
Columbus County NAACP President Curtis Hill said: “Our community stands united against the racism and corruption displayed by former Sheriff Greene. We have a clear message for voters: intimidation is not going to happen any more in Columbus County, because if we see it, we are going to speak up about it. We want you to call us and let us know if you have incidents or run-ins that you think need to be investigated while you are trying to use your voice. It is critical to us to engage with the community in a conversation to understand what is really happening in people’s lives here in Columbus County and to ensure that the voices of our whole community are heard — every voice in, no voice excluded – not just in this election, but as we come together to heal from the serious harms committed by this department under the former Sheriff's leadership.”
Forward Justice Staff Attorney Ashley Mitchell explained: “We want voters to know and understand that there is no place for voter intimidation in our democracy. You have the right to cast your ballot without fear of intimidation. If you encounter any situation that makes you feel intimidated or raises a red flag for you, call the Election Protection Hotline at 1-888-OUR-VOTE or 877-880-VOTE and one of our Intimidation Specialists will assist you to ensure your right to vote is protected!”
With early voting currently underway and the margins in Columbus County regularly being razor thin (for example, former Sheriff Greene was previously elected by just 34 votes) there are increased incentives to suppress voting in the county and therefore an urgent need to ensure the safety of Black voters in Columbus County during this time. NC NAACP officials have again requested the US DOJ immediately take the following actions:
- Expedite and ensure the full independence of a Federal civil rights investigation into the statements made and discriminatory actions taken by Sheriff Jody Greene;
- Deploy DOJ election monitors to Columbus County during the upcoming November 2022 General Election, including early voting proceeding election day, which began on October 20;
- Meet with community leaders expeditiously to discuss the next steps in addressing voter intimidation in Columbus County; and
- Hold a listening session with community members in Columbus County to determine other civil rights violations and community needs that the Department of Justice has the authority to provide a path to redress.
Read the full, second, letter from NC NAACP here.