Craven County officials drive stake thru heart of Free Speech — Local pastor told what he can, and cannot, say

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At left, George Liner, chairman of the Craven County Board of Commissioners, reprimands Pastor Ray Griffin (far right) for inappropriate speech during the board’s once-per-month public comment period.

Craven County attorney Arey Grady offers an explanation of Pastor Ray Griffin’s alleged rule infraction during the March 18 public comment period:

The Chairman did not prohibit the speaker or any other citizen addressing the Board from using the word “Muslim” or any other particular word. Rather, the Chairman was attempting to prevent the speaker from violating the Board’s rules of procedure involving public comments. The rules prevent repetitive comments [at the same or different meetings], discourteous comments and personal attacks during the public comment period. We believe this particular speaker was violating all these provisions of our Rules of Procedure.

See video below:


Craven County Board of Commissioners’ Chairman, Liner Shuts down free speech of citizen

by Hal James | CCTA Chairman

Things were a little different at the 3-18-19 meeting of the Craven County Board of Commissioners. It was a morning meeting, but petitioners were allowed to speak because there had been no opportunity for petitions of citizens during the month of March. Pastor Ray Griffin who often ministers to prisoners and who has shown himself to be a consistently concerned citizen and devout Christian indicated he wanted to make a petition.

Before Ray Griffin was allowed to speak, Board Chair, George Liner, called on the county’s attorney to explain the rules concerning citizens’ petitions. You can see a video of the meeting on the county’s website. When you watch the video, it becomes clear that Ray Griffin was set up. The important part of the rather skimpy instruction is that, “The Chairman will establish the rules for speaking, including
the time limits for each speaker.”

When the county attorney’s remarks were concluded, Board Chair, George Liner proceeded to set out brand new rules for Pastor Griffin.

His time was limited to 3 minutes (instead of the usual 4 minutes), and he was not to speak of particular religions (such as “Christian” or “Muslim”), and he was not to mention political parties by name (such as “Democrat” or “Republican”).

Do you see anything wrong with that?

I do too. It chokes off free speech and greatly restricts a citizen’s right to petition the government for redress of grievances. I can’t think of anything more out of line with the very American recognition of the sovereignty of citizens who each have rights bestowed by God almighty that mere elected county officials have no right to abridge. Such outrageous behavior demonstrates yet again that Craven County Board of Commissioners Chairman, George Liner, has a general disdain for citizen participation in the governing process in Craven County.

George Liner began his demonstrations of disdain for citizens by first talking the Board into reinstating the use of a “Consent Agenda,” and then he began using it to sneak in large expenditures of taxpayers’ money without the benefit of public discussion, and now this effort to shut down citizens’ right to petition the government in their own words.

This should NOT be allowed to stand. Is there an attorney out there who would like to press this issue for Ray Griffin and for all the citizens of Craven County???