A new committee created to prevent and address hate crimes in Cumberland County will have its second meeting Tuesday evening.

The Hate Crimes Committee is a subcommittee under the Fayetteville/Cumberland Human Relations Commission, a group of 11 people that provides the City Council and county commissioners with advice on creating harmony among racial and ethnic groups.

The committee will host a meeting open to the public at 5:30 p.m. in Festival Park Plaza, 225 Ray Ave., Suite 108.

The meeting will discuss ways that the city and county can be proactive if a hate crime occurs there.

Sheila Cuffee, chairwoman of the commission, said the idea for the committee came during strategic planning for the commission in 2016 given increasing racial tensions throughout the nation. However, she said the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, this summer spurred the commission to action.

One person was killed at the August rally between white nationalists and counter protesters, and two lawmen in a helicopter monitoring the event died in a crash.

“That gave us an extra push,” Cuffee said. “It’s all about being proactive. We pray we never have to use it.”

Cuffee said the goal of the committee is to prevent hate crimes, intervene if hate crimes occur and engage the community about the issue.

“We will be out in the community teaching people about what is a hate crime,” Cuffee said.

Ngozi Caleb Kamalu, a professor of political science at Fayetteville State University, has been appointed chairman of the committee.

The committee will also work with another committee, the crisis response team. This committee will be activated only in emergencies, such as if an incident like the Unite the Right rally happened in Fayetteville, Cuffee said.

That committee has yet to meet and is still being organized.

For more information about the Hate Crimes Committee or its meetings, call 433-1696.


Staff writer Monica Vendituoli can be reached at mvendituoli@fayobserver.com or 486-3596.