(Graham, N.C.) – Reverend Gregory Drumwright is being served with new felony criminal charges by the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office tonight related to the Oct. 31 “I Am Change” march. Two other members of Justice 4 the Next Generation are also being served with new charges. The peaceful march led voters to the polls on the last day of early voting and same-day voter registration in North Carolina.
“Rev. Drumwright and members of Justice 4 the Next Generation were merely expressing and celebrating their constitutional rights on Oct. 31 and should not face criminal charges as a result. These new charges are retaliation for our clients’ continued advocacy in Graham and the lawsuit filed against Sheriff Johnson on November 2nd, intended to pressure Rev. Drumwright and members of Justice 4 the Next Generation for challenging law enforcement officers’ use of pepper spray and other excessive force on protestors of white supremacy and police brutality against Black Americans,” said Elizabeth Haddix, managing attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
“We stand with Rev. Drumwright and other voters who gathered to speak out against racial injustice and participate in our democracy. It is troubling that a march to the polls was met with violence from law enforcement and has garnered ongoing hostility from law enforcement. These additional charges send a message that the Alamance County sheriff does not respect the First Amendment rights of the people he claims to serve. We will continue to fight to protect the rights of community members to gather and make themselves heard,” said Kristi Graunke, legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and ACLU of North Carolina filed a lawsuit against Graham Police Chief Kristy Cole and Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson on Nov. 2 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. The lawsuit aimed to protect protesters’ rights to free speech and assembly under the First and Fourth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as well as rights protected under Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act. Police violence over the weekend is cited as a violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which was initially enacted to protect the suffrage rights of formerly enslaved people, including by protecting them and their supporters from violence, intimidation, and harassment.
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