Small town of Kenly, NC. with about 2,400 people in Johnston and Wilson counties about 45 miles southeast of Raleigh finds themselves between a rock and a hard place. When the police force, the town clerk and the town’s utility clerk resigned back on Wednesday, July 20, 2022.
This all stems from the hiring of Justine Jones for new town manager, which didn’t sit well with the 20+ yr police chief Josh Gibson. Jones was hired out of 30 candidates in a national search, according to a town news release. She previously worked in local governments in Minnesota, Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
“The new manager has created an environment I do not feel we can perform our duties and services to the community,” Chief Gibson claimed of Jones, who took the position in early June.
Longtime resident Cynthia Kirby said “the entire issue is racial”. Jones is a Black woman, the police officers who resigned are white men. “They don’t want to be led by anybody Black; that’s Kenly. They’re always harassing Black people. It’s racial,” Kirby stated. “I hope this doesn’t end in her quitting because that’s not right. You can’t judge anybody because they make you do your job.”
Kenly, NC has a racist past that won’t be simply erased by not talking about it. In 1970 billboard sat high and proud, welcoming new members who shared similar views.