I develop websites and do social media freelance work on the side (jameslacorte.com). The developer of a proposed rezoning (to build a mixed-use development) contracts me to build and manage their website and social channels. I post updates on a regular basis, moderate conversations to better understand residents viewpoints and share the feedback with the developer.
 
Online sometimes the conversation gets heated between those who are for and against the rezoning. I live in the area as well, and though I think it’s a great opportunity, I know others don’t agree. And that’s ok.  I’ve been attacked online because I work for the developer, but always take the high road hoping we can bridge the divide and agree to disagree, yet share information and answer questions.
 
I heard there was a meeting today (2/11) with someone on the planning committee and drove by Lattimore invited by a sign instructing visitors to pull through the gate for the 1 pm meeting.  I parked and walked up quietly as the planning committee member answered questions for the residents of Lattimore and two other nearby neighborhoods about the proposed rezoning across the street.
 
I thought it would be interesting to meet and hear the conversation since I communicate with many of them online. Though we might disagree, we are neighbors after all. Well, this was a mistake on my part.
 
Someone asked me to sign a petition but I declined. A few people asked me who I was and I introduced myself. The organizer asked for my last name and was visibly upset by my presence. A few people demanded I leave. About ten people surrounded me, and two women pushed me in the back a few times. Ten of the thirty-five neighbors started chanting “Hey, Hey, Good Bye.” I ignored them and introduced myself to the planning committee member, the crowd yelled that I was trespassing and said I was not welcome. 
 
I stayed calm and respectful as I slowly walked away. A women followed me and called the police. I got into my car and saw her taking down my license plate number like I was a criminal.
 
I’m shocked and disappointed. I’m fine with them not being happy with my presence, but surrounding me, pushing, chanting and yelling was over the top.
 
Have we all lost our minds and forgot about the commandment love thy neighbor? I guess in this section of North Durham it’s only if you’re like them or agree with them.
 
I freelancing to make a few extra bucks to pay off some bills and never imagined it would result in a mad mob coming after me. 
 
Freelance at your risk! And stay away from Lattimore…
 
Here is the Next Door invite a friend sent me, so I assumed it was open to the public.

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