Updated: Oct 6
Durham, North Carolina — On Tuesday, September 19, the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) released its results related to accusations of a Durham City Councilmember extorting a developer. As requested by Mayor O’Neal, Councilmember Freeman has been silent about the investigation. Freeman has also been silent about the events leading up to the investigation, including recurring false accusations of physical violence at a work session. DeDreana Freeman has stepped forward to highlight the importance of due process and accountability and discuss the untold story of the tumultuous situation that unfolded several months ago. In the face of adversity, Freeman has stood strong, defying attempts to besmirch her character and showing unwavering commitment to justice.
On March 23 of this year, at the end of a City Council work session, Freeman found herself amid an alarming turn of events. A Councilmember raised the topic of censuring fellow Councilmember Holsey-Hyman related to accusations that she asked city staff to help with her campaign during work hours. Shockingly, Councilmember Hosley-Hyman was denied the opportunity to address the allegations before a resolution of censure was drafted. The situation escalated rapidly given additional allegations stemming from an unnamed developer, with those allegations lacking essential context, leaving Freeman and others in the dark about when, where, and what had transpired.
As a fervent advocate for due process, Freeman was taken aback by the disregard for fundamental principles of justice demonstrated by her colleagues. As the proceedings unfolded, it became painfully clear that the council member accused was being publicly humiliated without a fair inquiry to find the facts. Moreover, there were unsettling inconsistencies in the way that other allegations against fellow members were handled. Amidst this chaos, Freeman saw her duty not only as a council member but as a defender of justice and a human being.
The situation took an even darker turn when Freeman was confronted and verbally attacked by a fellow councilmember while exiting the dais after the session. In a bold response, she questioned the treatment she was receiving, drawing attention to the importance of treating all individuals, regardless of their background, with respect and fairness. The audio of this exchange was caught on camera. False allegations have been made that Freeman struck multiple individuals. As stated by Pastor Antonio Wood, who was present during the situation and interviewed by WRAL News, that’s not true. This statement was also corroborated by Leonardo Williams to ABC 11 in April, where he “denied any physical altercations between council members but did state there was a passionate outburst”.
Freeman expressed her thoughts, "I spoke up passionately because I couldn't stand by as a colleague was treated so unjustly. That’s why I said what I did. I believed then, as I do now, that every individual deserves due process and the right to defend themselves. This incident was about more than just a heated exchange; it was about standing up for what is right, defending the principles of fairness, and ensuring that no one's reputation is tarnished without an investigation. Since this has happened, it’s been extremely disappointing and disturbing to see and hear the racial and social tropes and respectability politics being used against me to deflect from the truth. They have used these tropes to portray me as the ‘angry black woman’.These heinous efforts continue today.”
The events that unfolded were not about causing disruption but about upholding the values that our community holds dear, such as fair play, justice and transparency. Councilmember Freeman’s actions were driven by a genuine concern for the welfare of her colleague and her commitment to seeing a just and accountable government in Durham.
The SBI found no evidence that Councilmember Holsey-Hyman extorted a developer. The developer who accused her of extortion did not bother to cooperate with the investigation. As it relates to a city staffer helping Holsey-Hyman with her political campaign, the SBI noted that the employee said they volunteered information and that Holsey-Hyman did not request information from them.
Councilmember Freeman remains committed to a better Durham for everyone, "As we move forward, my goal remains to foster dialogue and consensus, but I will never stand by while injustice prevails. As the little blue signs around Durham have said, I will continue to fight for every member of our community.”
Committee to Elect DeDreana Freeman