The Greensboro City Council agenda for the Tuesday, Oct. 20 meeting has an item that was the source of much controversy earlier this year.
Items 36, 37 and 38 on the agenda are for an Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) for $242,000. Most of this JAG funding goes to the Greensboro Police Department (GPD) and these grants had been routinely accepted for years. However, in January of this year one speaker from the Working class & Homeless Organizing Alliance (WHOA) complained about some of the language in the grant stating that by accepting the money Greensboro would agree to cooperate with federal agencies. The speaker’s interpretation of this was that the GPD would have to turn over information about immigration status to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Division of the Department of Homeland Security.
Assistant City Manager Trey Davis explained to the City Council that the Greensboro Police Department didn’t obtain immigration information from people it detained or arrested and as a result the GPD had no such information to turn over to ICE.
The majority of the City Council expressed concerns about cooperating with ICE. The result was that Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmembers Michelle Kennedy, Sharon Hightower, Yvonne Johnson and Tammi Thurm voted not to accept the $250,000 grant from the US Department of Justice for the GPD.
What the City Council discovered when it turned down the $250,000 in JAG money is that the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department and the High Point Police Department got to split the money that the GPD would have received if the City Council had agreed to accept the JAG.
When this latest JAG application was on the agenda for the August 18 meeting of the City Council, it passed unanimously.
So the three agenda items related to the JAG funds could pass without comment, or if a member of some organization complains again, it could become controversial and Guilford County and High Point could once again become the beneficiaries of Greensboro City Council action.