Jahnmaud Lane, an attendee of the Jan. 6 insurrection of the U.S. Capitol last year, was almost appointed to the Durham Human Relations Commission in June.
Lane, a former Republican mayoral candidate, was one vote shy of an appointment. In initial voting, he received support from Mayor Elaine O’Neal and two other council members.
The Commission was established to be representative of Durham’s diverse populations to help foster community harmony. Members apply to serve three-year terms, with 16 appointed by Durham City Council and one by the mayor.
The Commission aims to “represent the diverse social, economic, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religious affiliations, and racial and ethnic composition of the city” and is tasked with improving city relations, in particular with issues of discrimination and tensions between identity groups. The Commission has tackled issues like housing discrimination, raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the protection of LGBTQ+ residents.
Lane attended the rally on Jan. 6 and “was about to go inside [the Capitol], and [he] stopped,” he said in an interview with the Raleigh News and Observer. In interviews, he continued to support his attendance at the rally, telling the N&O that those who went into the Capitol “accidentally went into an U.S. posted, restricted area” and engaged in “mostly peaceful protests.”
Council member Jillian Johnson tweeted about Lane’s attendance at the rally the day after the initial voting for his position on the Commission, writing that he received three out of seven votes.
“He didn’t win because [two people] changed their votes to give another candidate [four votes],” she wrote in a reply.
In the next round of voting, both O’Neal and council member DeDreana Freeman retracted their vote, switching their support to incumbent Tammy Hood, who was instead selected for the position. Council member Monique Holsey-Hyman later rescinded her nomination during a June 9 work session.
“His values and approach to conflict-solving conflict with my own,” Holsey-Hyman said in a speech explaining the retraction of her vote. Elaine O’Neal has not publicly commented on her support for Lane, but responded to the email of a concerned resident, writing “everybody has a voice and [Lane] is a member of the public,” according to the N&O
O’Neal, Johnson and Lane did not respond to requests for comment.
Lane ran for Durham mayor in 2021, receiving 2.9% of the vote, or 589 votes, in the primary election in a progressive city where President Joseph Biden received more than 80% of the vote. During the election campaign, he was noted for repeatedly speaking in front of a Confederate flag and opposing the coronavirus vaccine. His platform centered on ending violent crime in Durham, as well as addressing the lack of affordable housing and inspecting for tenant damage in public housing.
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Millie Caughey is a Trinity first-year and a staff reporter for the news department.