Cops pepper spray peaceful Graham City march during NC early voting, Internet says 'this is disgraceful'

At least eight participants were arrested after police said they warned the activists to move from the roadway

                            Cops pepper spray peaceful Graham City march during NC early voting, Internet says 'this is disgraceful'
(Getty Images)

GRAHAM CITY, NORTH CAROLINA: On Saturday, October 31, a march to the polls rally during the final day of North Carolina early voting ended in the City of Graham when police pepper-sprayed some participants and arrested at least eight others, reports ABC11. City officials said the ‘I Am Change March to the Polls’ was organized by Rev Gregory Drumwright. Video shows Alamance County deputies and City of Graham police gradually approaching demonstrators on podiums before pepper-spraying participants. Scott Huffman, a candidate for U.S. Representative and participant of the event, said children and the elderly were sprayed and arrested during the incident.

You can see the video here.

Graham police said they had warned the crowd at Alamance County’s courthouse to move from the roadway before pepper-spraying and later arresting eight people. A press release from the department said the march organized by Drumwright didn’t have permission to block traffic. Initially, Drumwright had asked police and the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office if authorities could block the roadway for the rally members, but that request did not materialize because Drumwright “missed the deadline,” Graham police said.

Police claimed that participants stopped in the roadway for about nine minutes, creating traffic congestion “in all directions around court square.” Later, police asked the crowd to disperse, giving them a five-minute warning to leave the roadway. However, as that instruction wasn’t followed, police said they released the spray toward the ground not “directly” toward any participant.

The ‘I Am Change’ march to the polls bega from a local church to the courthouse. Drumwright claimed the group was permitted to stand in the courthouse square and was accompanied through the streets by the police. He also said that the group had “no intention” of having the rally in the street. “We are fed up with this kind of treatment in Alamance County and in Graham City,” Drumwright said in a Facebook live video following the altercation. “Both of those law entities colluded to suppress peaceful organizers, who were here not only to vote today, but to call an end to systemic oppression and racial disparages.”

Lindsay Ayling, a graduate student and anti-racism activist who participated in the rally, told AP, “The police were looking for excuses to use pepper spray and arrest members of the crowd.”

State Attorney General Josh Stein tweeted a statement: “My statement on today’s incident in Graham, NC: All eligible voters in North Carolina have a constitutional right to cast their vote safely and securely, without threats or intimidation. After today’s troubling events in Alamance County, I went to the courthouse in Graham .” He said, “... and all is calm now. I reached out to the State Board of Elections and was informed that the events appear not to have impacted voting at the early voting location. The site there was calm, and the voters got in line and voted.” Stein added, “I have also reached out to the Alamance County Sheriff but have not yet connected. I will update when I learn more.”




Governor Roy Cooper tweeted, “This incident is unacceptable. Peaceful demonstrators should be able to have their voices heard and voter intimidation in any form cannot be tolerated.”



Twitter users got together to react. One wrote, “No child, no American, should have to experience the violence perpetrated by the Alamance sheriff’s department today.” A user questioned, “@NC_Governor Will you intervene with the Alamance police? THEY FREQUENTLY SEEM A BIT EAGER to SHOW FORCE.” A user stated, “Alamance County citizen here. The sheriff and local government are popular for doing this and other authoritarian tactics. They have a lot of support. Their followers don't care a bit about rights or freedoms.” Another said, “Don’t let up! What happened today was disgraceful and I expect you and the Alamance County sheriff to take appropriate action.”






If you have a news scoop or an interesting story for us, please reach out at (323) 421-7514