Timeline: Louis Farrakhan, Charlotte and LaWana Mayfield

by Matt Comer  Editor  editor@goqnotes.com
Published: October 20, 2012 in Blog

RELATED: Follow the latest news and other developments in qnotes' special coverage of hate leader Louis Farrakhan's recent visit to Charlotte and local leaders' reactions.

The running timeline below gives a short overview of the events which have transpired since hate group leader Louis Farrakhan visited Charlotte for a series of speaking events Oct. 13-14. Local elected officials, including openly lesbian Charlotte City Councilmember LaWana Mayfield, have come under fire for refusing to condemn Farrakhan’s history of anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT hate speech. Farrakhan is documented as a hate leader of the Nation of Islam, certified as a hate group by the Montgomery, Ala.-based Southern Poverty Law Center. You can read ongoing updates and special coverage of this developing story at goqnotes.com/in/hate-watch/.

Timeline last updated: Nov. 14, 12:45 p.m.

Oct. 13 Louis Farrakhan speaks at Little Rock AME Zion Church. Several local elected officials and candidates for office attend, including openly lesbian Charlotte City Councilmember LaWana Mayfield, Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners Chairman Harold Cogdell, County Commissioner Vilma Leake and at-large Democratic commission candidate Kim Ratliff. Mayfield sends a message on Twitter to her followers saying, “Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan doing GOD’s will not his own,” and attaches a photo of Farrakhan at the church’s pulpit. Ratliff retweets, or shares, the message with her followers.
Oct. 14 Farrakhan speaks to approximately 6,000 at Bojangles’ Coliseum, marking the 17th anniversary of the Million Man March. Leake sits on stage behind Farrakhan.
Oct. 17
morning
qnotes is copied on a message to the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee, or MeckPAC, from at-large Republican commission candidate Wayne Powers, who takes issue with Ratliff’s appearance at Farrakhan’s Oct. 13. Research by the newspaper into Ratliff’s attendance at the event reveals the tweet from Mayfield, showing she was also in attendance.
 Oct. 17
evening
 MeckPAC holds its annual general election candidate reception and announces its endorsements, tapping Ratliff and Leake among others. qnotes speaks to Ratliff about her appearance at the Oct. 13 event, to which she says she was invited and attended in support of a campaign volunteer and friend. Ratliff says she was not aware of Farrakhan’s past comments, but if she had been prior to the event she still would have attended. MeckPAC Chair Scott Bishop says his group is confident of Ratliff’s commitment to LGBT equality and will not hold attendance at one event against her.
 Oct. 18
morning
 qnotes contacts and interviews Mayfield regarding her attendance at the Oct. 13 Farrakhan event and her tweet. Mayfield is asked to distance herself from Farrakhan and to condemn his history of anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT comments. She declines.
 Oct. 18
afternoon
 qnotes emails all sitting members of the Charlotte City Council and Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners asking if they attended any of the Farrakhan events, if they were aware of his past anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT comments and if they would publicly condemn his hate speech. Several respond. Mayfield again declines to condemn Farrakhan’s remarks.
 Oct. 19
morning
 qnotes publishes its original in-depth report detailing Farrakhan’s Charlotte events, Mayfield’s interview and comments from several other elected leaders. Also included are comments from Powers and an exploration of Farrakhan’s controversial place in American history, religion and politics. qnotes again contacts local elected officials who have yet to respond to the original Oct. 18 request for comment.
 Oct. 19
afternoon
 Cogdell responds to the request for comment and says he has “no regrets” after attending the Farrakhan’s Oct. 13 event. Like Mayfield, Cogdell refuses to condemn Farrakhan’s history of anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT hate speech, instead calling for locals to “carefully and thoughtfully consider the content of their speech prior to sharing thoughts and opinions.” qnotes seeks follow-up from Cogdell, asking if Charlotteans should “carefully and thoughtfully consider the content of” a neo-Nazi group’s speech when it comes to Charlotte for an event on Nov. 10. Cogdell does not reply.
Oct. 19
evening
Mayfield accuses a fellow gay leader of “intolerance” after he speaks out on Facebook regarding her comments. She later allegedly blocks him from her official city council Facebook profile. She again refuses to condemn Farrakhan’s history of anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT hate speech.
Oct. 19
late evening
On Facebook, Mayfield accuses qnotes of misrepresenting her interview with the newspaper. She again refuses to condemn Farrakhan’s history of anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT hate speech.
Oct. 20
early morning
In response to Mayfield’s accusations, qnotes publishes the entire audio recording of Mayfield’s interview with the newspaper, along with a transcript of the conversation. Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts joins Charlotte Mayor Foxx and Councilmembers Autry and Fallon in speaking out against hate.
Oct. 20
morning
Mayfield allegedly “unfriends” another Facebook user who spoke out on the social networking site regarding her comments.
Oct. 21
morning
Charlotte Councilmember Beth Pickering responds to request from qnotes for comment and goes on record against hate.
Oct. 22
morning
County Commissioner Vilma Leake responds to requests for comment. She declines to condemn Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT hate speech.
Oct. 22
afternoon
Several local elected officials decline to respond to a request for comment from qnotes. Elected officials were asked for comment several times and notified of the newspaper’s print edition. Officials opting not to respond by the 1 p.m. deadline on Oct. 22 include: County Commissioners Dumont Clarke, George Dunlap and Jim Pendergraph, and City Councilmembers Michael Barnes, Patrick Cannon, Andy Dulin, David Howard, Patsy Kinsey and Warren Cooksey.
Oct. 23 Two organizations that endorsed Mayfield, Leake, Cogdell and Ratliff, as well as a third organization with which Mayfield is affiliated, are asked to give a statement on the ongoing controversy. The elected officials and candidate are forwarded the statements and asked for further comment.
Oct. 24
evening
After attempting to follow-up with all of the elected officials and candidate, qnotes releases the statements of Mayfield’s endorsers. Both groups, MeckPAC and the national Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, publicly condemn hate, but Mayfield, Leake and Cogdell remain silent on the issue. The Foundation For The Carolinas which oversees the Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund on whose board Mayfield sits, declines repeated requests to publicly condemn anti-Semitism and anti-LGBT hate.
Nov. 1
morning
Cogdell, Leake and Mayfield are asked again about their views on anti-Semitism and anti-LGBT hate as a planned neo-Nazi rally draws near. None of the officials respond.
Nov. 2 An Oct. 20 statement by Mayfield to her Facebook followers is revealed. In it, she says she does not condone discrimination, though she and other elected officials continue to dodge requests for an on-the-record and public response.
Nov. 14 In an interview with Charlotte’s alternative newsweekly, Creative Loafing, Mayfield responds publicly to the controversy over her refusal to condemn Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism and anti-LGBT hate.