Town of Carrboro declines to remove Black Lives Matter flags at voting site despite Board of Elections request to remove them

CARRBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Town of Carrboro declined on Thursday to take down Black Lives Matters flags hanging outside an early voting site after a request for removal from the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

On Wednesday, the executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections sent a letter to the mayor and town council after receiving complaints about the flags hanging outside Town Hall.

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Back in July, the Town approved a motion to allow the flags "supporting Black Lives Matter along with gel lights" to fly at Town Hall.

The flags have been hanging there ever since.

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Now, Town Hall is an early voting site for the November General Election.

State Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell sent a letter addressed to Mayor Lydia Lavelle and the Carrboro Town Council, saying that they've received "a couple of emailed complaints" about the voting site.

"After receiving word today from the General Counsel for the Republican Party that there were numerous additional complaints, we feel we must formally request you remove these flags for the duration of the early voting period, which concludes in three days on Saturday, October 31, 2020," the letter read.

It continued: "The flags are attached to the front of the one-stop site and therefore could be interpreted as an official endorsement by the board of elections in favor of a particular movement. While these flags may be a supported symbol of the Town of Carrboro, the one-stop early voting site is open to any Orange County voter and therefore the site must provide the opportunity for all voters to exercise their right to vote without intimidation or hindrance."

ABC11 received copies of some of the complaints.

"The BLM flags represent the views of one party," one read. "Will the town council be flying all lives matter flags as well?"

Another said: "I was shocked to see political BLM flags over the door of the entrance. Voter intimidation at its finest. This is unacceptable!"

In an email, town spokesperson Catherine Lazorko said that, "after consulting with the town attorney, the Mayor and Town Council have chosen to leave the flags in place."
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