(Washington, D.C.) – Alamance community leaders in Graham, North Carolina led the: “I am Change: March to the Polls.” During the march, peaceful demonstrators, including children, were assaulted by Alamance County Sheriff’s deputies. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, an organization that had been working with community leaders and activists in the lead up to Saturday’s march, including efforts to coordinate with law enforcement to ensure the safety and security of demonstrators, issued the following statements in response to the assault:
“The Bull Connors and George Wallaces of yesterday have been replaced by a posse of all-white law enforcement officials in the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office who abused their power to silence and disenfranchise Black people,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The assault on peaceful demonstrators in Graham, North Carolina shocks the conscience and is an astounding display of police violence perpetrated against Black people and other supporters in the final days of the general election. Alamance County Sheriff’s deputies, in complicity with officials from the City of Graham, pepper sprayed peaceful demonstrators, including children, who were participating in a march to the polls. This constitutes interference with our most fundamental civil rights – the right to protest and the right to vote. We will not stand by idly as law enforcement abuses their power to intimidate or silence Black voters.”
Reverend Greg Drumwright of the The Citadel Church, in Greensboro, N.C. stated: “North Carolina has led the nation in voter suppression since 2012. Officials from our state wrote the playbook on what happened on Saturday. This was not a coincidence, it was intentional. People of color in rural areas have been disenfranchised in their activism and in their efforts to organize against systemic oppression and police brutality. We plan to stay relentless to get people to the polls in Alamance County. As a national activist, I hope that people will seize this moment to double down on efforts to get people to the polls.”
“We condemn these actions by Alamance Sheriff’s Office and Graham Police which caused so much harm to Black people and others peacefully marching. This was a grotesque replay of the same police-orchestrated voter intimidation efforts that plagued this nation decades ago,” said Elizabeth Haddix, managing attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law who was present during the march.
Earlier this year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed suit against officials in Graham, North Carolina for interfering with the First Amendment rights of protesters, securing a settlement announced in October 2020.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.