The Greensboro City Council voted to once again apologize for the events of Nov. 3, 1979, where five members of the Communist Workers Party were shot and killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party.
The vote took place at a special virtual meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, and was the third City Council meeting of the day.
The resolution apologizing and placing the blame on the Greensboro Police Department for the shooting that happened almost 42 years ago passed by a 7-2 vote with Councilmembers Marikay Abuzuaiter and Nancy Hoffmann voting no.
According to statements by councilmembers, Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmembers Tammi Thurm and Goldie Wells had been working on this resolution since December 2019. In keeping with the secret way this City Council operates, the only public discussion of the resolution was at Tuesday’s meeting.
This is the third official apology or expression of regret passed by Greensboro City Councils over the years, but it is by far the most detailed and the first to place the blame for the shootings on the Greensboro Police Department.
It was that portion of the apology that both Abuzuaiter and Hoffmann said caused them to vote against the resolution. Both Abuzuaiter and Hoffmann had been on the Human Relations Commission in 2009 that studied the incident in detail and proposed the expression of regret that was passed by the City Council on June 16, 2009.
Both went over in some detail why the apology was not an accurate representation of the events of Nov. 3, 1979.
Abuzuaiter said that she read and studied all of the major reports on those events. She said, “I believe the city administration and the Police Department acted the best they could with the information they had.”
Hoffmann said, “I find myself this evening in the difficult and almost impossible position of being in support of a formal resolution of apology, but unable to support this resolution based on its language indicting the Greensboro Police Department and other city personnel for an event that occurred 41 years ago and which really has been exhaustively investigated and vetted.”
Hoffmann said one of the three contemporaneous investigations and reports was from the Citizens Review Committee in 1980. She said, “The Citizens Review Committee report said that nothing in their review of police conduct gave any substance to the charges by the Communist Works Party that suggested police conspiracy in the shooting. They indicated the police responded quickly and professionally and within minutes of violence occurring the police had arrested suspects of the shooting.”