Voters marching to the polls in Alamance County today were turned back after sheriff's deputies pepper-sprayed them
Some background: Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson was reprimanded by the U.S. DOJ in 2012 for numerous constitutional violations + an "egregious pattern of racial profiling." He was then re-elected twice, in 2014 and 2018, after no one ran against him
However, later on in 2016, the DOJ and Alamance County reached a settlement over this issue. The DOJ dropped legal action in exchange for the sheriff agreeing for his deputies to undergo bias training and more
More info on exactly what was happening before the pepper pray started today in Alamance. Plus, confirmation that a reporter was among those arrested #ncpol
Police use pepper-spray on protesters — including children — marching to Alamance polls
Alamance County sheriff’s deputies and Graham police pepper-sprayed people — including a 5-year-old girl and other children — who were participating in the “I Am Change” march to the polls on Saturday afternoon.
A racially diverse group of about 200 people walked with a police escort from Wayman’s Chapel AME Church to Court Square, where they held a rally encouraging people to vote. The event was organized by Rev. Greg Drumwright, a Burlington native who leads the the Citadel Church in Greensboro, according to his website.
At least three politicians participated in some parts of the event: the current mayor of Burlington, Ian Baltutis; Democratic candidate for county commissioner Dreama Caldwell; and Democratic school board candidate Seneca Rodgers.
At one point, the marchers held a moment of silence in the street in honor of George Floyd, the Black man killed while in police custody in Minneapolis earlier this summer. After the moment of silence concluded, law enforcement told people to clear the road.
Then, deputies and police officers used pepper spray on the crowd and began arresting people. Several children in the crowd were affected by the pepper spray.
Melanie Mitchell said her 5-year-old and 11-year-old daughters were pepper-sprayed just after the moment of silence. She said Graham police approached the crowd assembled in the street and told them to move onto the sidewalk and soon began spraying pepper spray toward the ground. Mitchell’s 5-year-old took off running, she said. Both kids threw up.
“My 11-year-old was terrified,” Mitchell said. “She doesn’t want to come down to Graham anymore.”
The crowd then moved to the courthouse where speeches were being given. But before the speeches concluded, Alamance County sheriff’s deputies began dismantling the sound system and telling the crowd to disperse.
George Floyd’s niece was slated to speak at the event, but the speeches were disrupted before she got a chance at the microphone.
Deputies and officers again used pepper spray to force people off the courthouse property.
Veronica Holman said her 3-year-old great-nephew also threw up after being pepper-sprayed. They had been sitting on a brick wall across the street from the courthouse, she said. “They didn’t warn us or anything,” she said. “We were just sitting on the wall.”
At least 12 people were arrested. About 20 police officers and sheriff’s deputies stood guard outside the county jail following the arrests; about 100 marchers gathered on a grass strip outside, with officers stationed on both sides of the crowd.
Caldwell told a News & Observer reporter that her campaign manager was arrested.
Tom Boney Jr., the publisher of the Alamance News newspaper, said that one of his reporters, Tomas Murawski, also was arrested during the protest.
Boney, who was at the protest, said Murawksi was taking photos on the street when he was arrested.
“When I spoke to him on the street, while he was in police custody, he said they ordered them to move out of the road way,” Boney said in an interview with the N&O. “He was doing so, while still taking photos, but apparently not fast enough for (the police).”
The protests did not appear to disrupt the last day of early voting in the city, according to the State Board of Elections. “We’re still gathering information but it appears that voting has continued and hasn’t been interrupted,” Patrick Gannon, spokesman for the State Board of Elections, told The News & Observer.
But many who were marching may not have reached the polls.
Faith Cook was one of the few marchers to make it to the polling place on Elm Street.
“I’ve never experienced anything like that,” Cook told The News & Observer. “Nobody should have to.
“I think it was their intention, from the moment this march was announced, that we don’t get to the polls in numbers.”
Quencelyn Ellison, president of Alamance Alliance 4 Justice who helped organize the march, questioned why the marchers were met with pepper spay.
“Why were we tear-gassed on the day we were going to the polls? Voter intimidation?” Ellison said. “We’ve been out here doing this for several weeks, and we were peaceful. How do we get treated with such great threat?”
The “I Am Change” march was billed in part as a get-out-the-vote initiative as well as a demonstration against police violence.
“This is a non-partisan march,” Drumwright said earlier this week, according to the Burlington Times-News. “This march is encouraging people to go to the polls and vote for change.”
Alamance and other counties in the Triad region include several key districts that Democrats are trying to flip, in hopes of ending Republicans’ control of the state legislature. Some of the biggest political fundraising in all of North Carolina has occurred in Alamance, a News & Observer analysis found earlier this year.
In the US today the worst crime is not genuflecting or giving sufficient obedience to the police. They must never be disrespected nor disobeyed. They are an occupying force in the US over the population. It seems these people had permission and were escorted by local police, then these Sheriff deputies moved in and started pepper spraying them. This is the US under tRump. Hugs