The International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina, is, as its name implies, an institution dedicated to tolerance and racial cooperation. Located in the former F.W. Woolworth building where, in 1960, a now-iconic sit-in protest by four black college students took place, the Center is currently in the news for a decidedly less-auspicious reason. For weeks, it's been the target of harassment by angry supporters of Donald Trump.
The threats began in late September, when news broke that the museum had denied Trump a private tour of the facilities while he was in the area during one of his many North Carolina campaign stops. Speaking with the University of North Carolina student newspaper The Daily Tarheel, museum CEO John Swaine explained that the Trump campaign had asked for the museum to be closed for five hours on September 20, during which the candidate would use the site for media purposes with his own, personal, tour guide.
"Based upon our mission and our vision we would never use the museum as a prop for anyone’s ideology, it’s just not what we do,” he told the paper. “This is a very important landmark."
What's more, Swaine added later, Trump's views place him at odds with the center's core values.
"I do believe the Trump campaign is comprehensively opposed to the work we do at this museum,” he said. “He would never be in support of our beliefs, when we talk about non-violence, equal justice, housing discrimination — those are things we want to educate the world about."
According to museum co-founder Earl Jones, Trump's campaign was "bullying" in its attempt to use the facilities. Jones told local CBS affiliate WFMY that, had Hillary Clinton made a similar request to use the site for political purposes, she too would have been denied. He stressed, though, that candidates would be welcome to tour the center with a museum-provided guide.
This was all a bridge too far for some Trump supporters, who decided to channel their pre-election energies into deluging the center with angry, vulgar, and racist threats.
"The callers were threatening to come over and burn down the building and to shoot up the building,” John Swaine told The News and Observer on Tuesday. “They’ve lessened in frequency this week, but they’re still coming in." Swain told the paper that museum staff is now recording all threatening calls they receive.
When asked by the News and Observer, the Trump campaign declined to comment on the matter.
All this comes as recent polling shows Hillary Clinton assuming a lead over Trump in North Carolina. According to data from Elon University released on October 4, Clinton tops Trump by nearly six points in the state, thanks, in part, to a 98% support rate among black voters.