NC A&T University suspended Fox, a political science professor, with pay on Tuesday for violating the UNC system's political activity policy. Fox opened the press conference by saying that his lawyer would need to answer any questions regarding his relationship with A&T.
Greensboro City Councilman Jim Kee — Fox's opponent — said multiple sources told him that one of Fox's students made a comment on Oct. 18 about receiving an "A" for voting. Kee reported what he heard to the board of elections, later raising the concern with university officials after hearing from someone that a similar comment was made to Fox by a student on Oct. 21. In the meeting, Kee said administrators told him Fox's candidacy itself presented a conflict with A&T's rules.
Read more about what happened and the context in our full article here.
Fox said at the press conference that he would not let recent events derail his campaign or the political aspirations of his community. He made a vague reference to the fact that he has made mistakes like everyone has, but focused on the message that he is standing up for what he believes in.
"I refuse to be bullied or silenced for doing what is best for our community," he said. Though he avoided mentioning his opponent, who Fox previously blamed for recent events, he responded to press questions about Kee.
"I blame my opponent for running a smear campaign," Fox said, adding that he was "disappointed" by Kee's tactics and "surprised" by his suspension from A&T.
Lewis Beveridge, a community activist who acted as a press liaison during the meeting, said the legal process will sort out Fox's employment and that he is confident Fox upheld the spirit and the letter of the law.
|Fox stood in front of supporters, including former District 2 Councilwoman Goldie Wells, Renaissance Community Cooperative President Leo Steward and other community activists.|
Councilman Kee released a statement later that evening reiterating that he "never accused anyone of committing any crime" and that he learned that Fox broke A&T's political activity policy when he met with university administrators.
Yet Kee's press release contradicted statements he made in an interview with YES! Weekly on Monday. Kee said in the interview that he didn't contact A&T until Oct. 21 after hearing that students made comments to Fox about grades-for-voting on Oct. 18 and again on the 21. Kee said he didn't contact university officials until after the second incident.
In his press release, Kee only makes reference to one incident and states that he contacted A&T on Oct. 18. The release says Kee met with university officials on the morning of Oct. 21.
Fox initially announced that his press conference would be held at the Renaissance Shopping Center but moved to a nearby church parking lot when the city informed him the shopping center is city property and not a space for a public forum. Fox's campaign said in an e-mail that Kee complained to the city, but later sent out a correction that it was due to an unnamed council member.
City Attorney Mujeeb Shah-Khan declined to comment if a council member contacted his office, only saying that a citizen of Greensboro reached out with concerns. Shah-Khan emphasized that he was already aware of the planned press conference and that it potentially conflicted with city rules, including one that requires a permit for public addresses on city property or the street. Kee couldn't immediately be reached for comment about whether he played a role in the situation.