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Kinston group seeks to save buildings, city says it’s getting rid of neglected property

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 8:05 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A handful of protesters rallied outside a courthouse Tuesday in hopes of saving a building they said is a historic piece of Kinston. City officials disagree with that assessment.

Several people gathered from the group “SOUL” or Saving Our Unique Legacy. They’re protesting the City of Kinston condemning a two-story house on Gordon Street, and a second structure on the property.

Dr. Joseph Askew oversees the property and says it is an old slave house.

Askew says he has done work to the property, but the city still wants to tear down the homes on the four-acre property.

He claims the City of Kinston is discriminately seeking to destroy this and other structures on the east side of town that are predominately black-owned.

“The black businesses - they were putting them on a list to be torn down. And we don’t think that is fair. They are not going across town and tearing down the buildings in the white section when you look at everything at an equal basis.”

Dr. Joseph Askew

Interim City Manager Rhonda Barwick says differently.

“Mr. Askew has been making baseless claims about this issue for months. The court recently ruled against him, so he is taking his claims to the media. The reality is that Kinston has a problem with dilapidated, neglected and unsafe housing and the city council has been doing what it can to address the problem and to help preserve neighborhoods where property owners try to take care of their properties,” says Barwick.

“The city enforces its codes evenhandedly. In Mr. Askew’s case, the court has just recently affirmed that. We cannot comment further while the case is still pending.”

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