Talkback: Pride Charlotte and Flip Benham

Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor and comments from goqnotes.com. Web comments are not edited for grammar or punctuation.

As a past Task Force member for the years 2006-2008, I must point out an error in your article in the current qnotes where it stated the Pride Charlotte Festival was “forced to move their events to private property.” This is not true, for we had the option to remain at Marshall Park, but choose not to for we wanted a clean break from the previous organizers not only in the feel of the event but in location. We even looked at another park but due to logistical issues choose Gateway Village. The fiasco with the protesters in 2005 did play into our decision, but personally, I was against Marshall Park for it is not as visible as many perceive it to be, it was not able to accommodate an expansion, and it is a cement pond wedge between government properties and a church; not exactly an area of high activity and exposure on a Saturday. Gateway’s layout of both private property and public property, and the amenities, gave us what was felt to be the best option in 2006, especially with the short time frame we had for planning.

As to Flip Benham and his ilk, my personal opinion is it is unfortunate that in this country we still have those who attempt to deny a segment of the population their right to free speech and free assembly. They claim to be out to preach their message, but after years of trying to stop the festival from happening and failing, they now resort to tactics to try to disrupt the festival, including deliberate attempts to get arrested to enable them to file frivilous lawsuits. Their words do not match their actions and where I come from that is lying. Some of their tactics have been bigoted, anti-semitic, derogatory and aggressive. It reminds me of a statement by Daniel Defoe who said “And of all Plagues with which Mankind are Curst, Ecclesiastick Tyranny’s the worst.”

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In public policy we are still striving for positions based on reason and logic, and not theological beliefs that have nothing to do with our Constitution and laws. Lets hope we arrive soon.
— Darryl Hall, Charlotte, N.C.

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I had the honor of serving on the Pride Charlotte Task Force for 2006-2008. We had to adhere to the law and obtain the necessary permits. Unlike Benham and [Operation Save America] we were not looking for the City or County to bend laws or make exceptions for us. We had to conform to the law because that is what you do. There was a lot of hard work put in by Darryl Hall and the other members of the Pride Committee to ensure that the permits were in place and there would be minimal harassment of attendees. There were multiple meetings with the City and CMPD to ensure we were in compliance with the laws and their additional requirements/suggestions.

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One thing though, when we selected the venue in 2006 we were not forced to private property. We chose private property in order to keep Benham, OSA, Michael Brown and the Coalition of Conscience under control. It was because of what Brown and his Coalition of Conscience did to the former Charlotte Pride that year when they invaded Marshall Park and caused a great deal of distress for attendees that we chose private property. We could not easily eject them from the public property of the park but we could from private property.

We did our homework and worked tirelessly planning an event that would keep Benham and his ilk from running roughshod over us. To date there has not been a repeat of 2005.
— Raine Cole, Charlotte, N.C., submitted via online comment

[Ed. Note — Hall and Cole served as co-chairs of the Pride Charlotte Task Force in 2008. qnotes publisher Jim Yarbrough and editor Matt Comer also served on the committee that year.]

This article was published in the Feb. 6 – Feb. 19 print edition.

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