Hundreds gathered Sunday afternoon for a march billed “Peaceful Protest 4 Criminal Justice Reform” in Graham, North Carolina led by Rev. Greg Drumwright.
The group called for the resignation of Alamance County Sheriff Terry S. Johnson, who deployed mace against the group last month during a “march to the polls” to vote. Following the incident, police have arrested activists and charged Rev. Drumwright himself with felonies.
The march Sunday began at Children’s Chapel United Church and headed into downtown Graham. As they walked, the group was spread out over several blocks to encourage social distancing to the extent possible.
NAACP North Carolina State Chapter President Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman spoke out in front of the John Hardie Stockard Law Enforcement Building saying the group is “here today against the policies and mendacity of the Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson, who quite frankly conducts himself and the Sheriff’s office just as if he were a grand supporter of Jim Crow, or himself a member of the white supremacist Tea Party.”
“It is in his nature to foster a culture of bias that has undermined the Alamance County Sheriff’s office from protecting and serving the African American community,” he added.
“They engage in substandard reporting and monitoring practices that mask its discriminatory conduct,” said Rev. Greg Drumwright. “And that’s why we’re out here, because we’re calling for that sheriff to step down.”
“We want a new sheriff in Alamance County.”
Protesters confronted a couple of right-wing counter-protesters across the street outside the Law Enforcement Building. One – later identified as North Carolina native Robbie Butler – told the protesters that “You’re proud of your black power, we’re proud of our white power.”
He wore a shirt parodying the Proud Boys reading “I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me.”
Rev. Drumwright led the group in chants of “This is what democracy looks like!” on the front side of the Law Enforcement Building, where sheriff’s deputies forced the group back onto the sidewalk. Inmates inside audibly banged windows in support.
“You keep screaming out like that, you’re going to jail” threatened one officer to a man yelling at him, before the group moved on.
The group next marched by the local police station as their penultimate stop.
“It’s not just Terry Johnson, it’s our police department as well” said Rev. Drumwright.
The march was confronted by several more counter-protesters wearing pro-Trump, pro-police, and pro-Confederacy gear near the city’s Confederate monument, which was the final stop for the day.
The group held their fists in the air and chanted “Black Lives Matter” toward the monument, which they would like to see removed.
NAACP NC State Chapter President Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman’s full speech:
Activists hold “Peaceful Protest 4 Criminal Justice Reform” in Graham, NC https://t.co/0YvCDtYpCX
— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) November 29, 2020