A march from Wayman’s Chapel AME Church in Graham to the Alamance County Court Square on the last day of North Carolina early voting received national attention this week when law enforcement officers used pepper spray to disperse the crowd and made several arrests. Keep reading for more on this story and other news.
Graham. On Saturday, a group of roughly 200 people participated in the “I Am Change” march, proceeding from Wayman’s Chapel AME Church to Court Square with a police escort. The march participants planned to rally on the courthouse grounds and then continue on to an early voting polling location.
Video from the event shows that participants knelt in the street in a traffic circle outside the courthouse where a confederate statute is located. Graham Police Department Lieutenant Daniel Sisk said at a press conference that event organizers had been informed that they were not officially permitted to block traffic as part of the march and rally, but that an agreement had been reached whereby marchers would be allowed to kneel in the traffic circle for close to 9 minutes to recognize the killing of George Floyd earlier this year in Minneapolis. Sisk said that a police officer was assaulted when he tried to prevent people from continuing to block the street beyond the allotted time and an announcement to clear the street, and that assault caused police to deploy pepper spray to disperse what was then deemed an unlawful assembly. There have been varying reports from people at the event as to how widely the announcement to clear the street was heard.
It appears that there was an additional but unrelated pepper spraying shortly thereafter, with the second incident involving the Alamance County Sheriff’s Department. In a press conference, department officials said that march organizers had been told that gas powered generators would not be permitted because of fire safety concerns but that a deputy discovered a disguised generator powering the PA system. Officials said that a deputy was assaulted during the investigation of the generator, and that the assault caused deputies to deploy pepper spray.
Various people, including event organizer Rev. Greg Drumwright, were arrested in connection with the two incidents. Some for RDO, others for refusing to disperse, and at least one for an assault. Among those arrested for obstruction was Alamance News reporter Tomas Murawski.
Polling Site Arrest. WBTV reports that Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are looking for a man who they arrested for trespassing after he loitered around a University City polling place with an unconcealed weapon after voting and who then returned to the polling place after being released from custody. Justin Dunn now is the subject of an arrest warrant for an additional trespassing charge.
Music Fest Bust. The News & Observer reports that Orange County sheriff’s deputies charged a property owner and an event organizer with misdemeanors for violating Governor Cooper’s executive order related to COVID-19 safety precautions after responding to a noise complaint and discovering a music festival in a field in Efland. The event was billed as a “family friendly benefit concert in aid of family homelessness” and 300 tickets had been sold at the gate.
Indiana is Hiring. There have been several reports recently about the unusually high number of officers who have resigned from the Asheville Police Department over the course of this year. WLOS says that the Fort Wayne Police Department in Indiana is looking to capitalize on the situation, setting up a billboard on I-26 advertising that it is “Hiring New and Lateral Officers” with the hashtag “#JoinUs.”