WHITEVILLE, NC — Herman Lewis, second Vice President of the Columbus County NAACP, filed a protest Tuesday with the Columbus County Board of Elections asking them to disqualify Jody Greene from holding office as sheriff. Lewis was represented by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and supported by the North Carolina NAACP.
Greene was reelected to the office after a judge suspended him from his former role as sheriff during removal proceedings after racist comments he made on the job were recorded and made public in news articles. He voluntarily resigned at the time, the day his removal hearing was set, in order to avoid a judicial decision so that he could run for office again. The District Attorney presented extensive evidence of Greene’s misconduct in the Sheriff’s Office and in his official duties.
The County District Attorney has publicly committed to renewing removal proceedings once Greene takes office, but the protest states the Board of Elections need not wait for that occurrence because of Greene’s ineligibility for office.
“A man who should have been permanently removed from office was wrongly permitted to run again—a man who is known to bear extreme antipathy toward Black residents and has acted on that antipathy in a multitude of ways—and won in a county marked by significant racially polarized voting,” the protest states. “This man, S. Jody Greene, was suspended by a Superior Court judge, but tried to game the system and avoid the full consequences of his misconduct by resigning on the day the removal proceeding would have been carried to completion.”
“This has been going on since 2018, and it just hasn’t been a pleasant atmosphere in Columbus County. People are scared,” said Herman Lewis of why he filed the protest. “We deserve justice, and we need to be able to voice our opinions. There are big systemic problems in Columbus County and making sure that representatives are accountable is the least we can do.”
The Columbus County Board of Elections will meet at 3 p.m. Monday to review the protest. The meeting is open to the public and will be held at the Board’s office, 2586 James B White Hwy N Building B, Whiteville, NC 28472.
“When Jody Greene was removed from office and then resigned afterward, that effectively disqualified him from office,” said Allison Riggs, co-executive director and chief counsel of voting rights at Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “We will not rest until this man is not threatening the lives and wellbeing of Black residents in Columbus County.”
“We’re still fighting this fight that we started some time ago,” said Curtis Hill, President of the Columbus County NAACP. “We want to make sure people feel safe in Columbus County. Jody Greene’s presence degrades the office he was elected to, and we believe it is improper for him to serve. We want to make sure that office is building trust and a culture in which cases are being investigated fully and fairly. We will pursue any legal avenue available to prevent him and the folks who stand with him from serving.”
“I would just like to have voting justice and true criminal justice be equitable in Columbus County for all citizens, regardless of their race, creed or color, which is not exemplified by former Sheriff Jody Greene,” said Deborah Dicks Maxwell President, NC NAACP. “I’m appalled at the behavior in our neighboring county, and the NC NAACP stands behind President Hill and their actions or decisions with regards to this, and we will use all resources at the state and national level to see that justice is done here.”
“The statements that have been by this individual indicates that he is no friend of all the people in Columbus County, especially among Black residents or people who won’t stand in support of him,” said Courtney Patterson, third Vice President of the NC NAACP, who oversees the Columbus County branch. “There’s no way we could look to him to serve justice justly to anyone in Columbus County, and for that he should not be permitted to hold office.”
Lewis, Hill, Dicks Maxwell and Patterson will be present at the Columbus County Board of Election meeting Monday, and will be available outside the office afterward to make statements and take questions from media.
Melissa Boughton, 830-481-6901, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, founded in 2007, partners with communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities in the South to defend and advance their political, social, and economic rights through the combination of legal advocacy, research, organizing, and communications. Learn more at southerncoalition.org and follow our work on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.