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19, including N.C. head of NAACP, arrested at school busing, diversity protest

“We know that our cause is right,’’ the Rev. William Barber, head of North Carolina’s NAACP, said before his arrest. “We know that our cause is right,’’ the Rev. William Barber, head of North Carolina’s NAACP, said before his arrest. (Jim R. Bounds/Associated Press)
Associated Press / July 21, 2010

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Protesters and police scuffled yesterday at a school board meeting here over assertions that a new busing system would resegregate schools, roiling racial tensions reminiscent of the 1960s.

Nineteen people were arrested, including the head of the state NAACP chapter, who was banned from the meeting after a trespassing arrest at a June school board gathering.

“We know that our cause is right,’’ the Rev. William Barber said shortly before police put plastic handcuffs on his wrists before the meeting started.

Inside, more than a dozen demonstrators disrupted the meeting by gathering around a podium, chanting and singing.

The Wake County School Board has voted multiple times over the past several months to scrap the district’s diversity policy, which distributed students based on socioeconomics and for years had been a model for other districts looking to balance diversity in schools. Several board members elected last year have built a majority in favor of focusing on neighborhood schools.

The board’s chairman, Ron Margiotta, said the panel would not be distracted in its effort to “provide choice and increased stability for families.’’

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