Graham, North Carolina – The familiar cries of “No justice, no peace” returned to Graham on the afternoon of July 9th as more than 30 people gathered in front of the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office. The sit-in was the first demonstration since a controversial protest ban enacted by the town of Graham and enforced by the sheriff’s office was lifted by a federal judge. Following back-to-back demonstrations calling for the removal of the Confederate statue in Graham, the Sheriff’s Office announced on June 26th that no protest permits would be issued within the city for the “foreseeable future,” and that protesters would “be in violation and subject to arrest.” In response, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit and sought a temporary restraining order against local officials, which was granted on July 6th. A letter from the ACLU to the sheriff’s office said, “Your threat to arrest people for protesting without a permit, as well as the indefinite blanket refusal to issue permits, violates the most fundamental constitutional rights to assembly, speech and to be free from unlawful seizures and use of excessive force without due process of law.”

       Johnson had offered to participate in a question and answer session with protestors, but his offer was declined by the Alamance residents that attended the protest. Johnson’s 18-year tenure as sheriff of Alamance has been peppered with accusations of racial profiling, specifically against members of the Hispanic and Latino community. Nuevos, an advocacy group based in Raleigh, partnered with Fountain and Boston to call for his resignation. “We’ve witnessed the injustice Terry Johnson has been doing here and we wanted to do something about it,” said Larry Lopez, an organizer from Nuevos. “We want to be the voice for those that can’t be heard right now.” According to data from the last census, just over 13% of Alamance county residents are Hispanic or Latino.

       “Sheriff Johnson needs to know we are being genuine,” said Carina Lozano, an organizer from Nuevos. “He needs to know that we are not going anywhere and he is the one that needs to go. “I’m proud to see the majority of the people at the protest aren’t minorities, they were white people. They are young and they are trying to fight for us, it is amazing to see.” As a precaution against COVID-19, protestors were advised to wear masks. Despite the potential for infection, Boston felt the risk had to be taken. With the restraining order in effect, protests aimed at the Confederate statue in Graham resume this weekend. The Alamance Alliance for Justice and Alamance Agents for Change is pushing for “an end to racial oppression” and the removal of the contentious figure by planning a march on July 11th that will culminate at the statue’s base. yyy (Q Notes – Anton L. Delgado at goqnotes.com/66181/protected-by-a-temporary-restraining-order-activists-return-to-graham)

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