The North Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and several other groups sued the Alamance County Sheriff and Graham’s Chief of Police for marching pepper spray voters to the polls in Graham town last Saturday afternoon.
The lawsuit alleges that the town ordinances governing protest permits are vague and restrict people’s right to freedom of expression under the First Amendment.
“The city’s permit requirement and the periodic ban on protest violate our most basic rights to gather peacefully and ask our government for redress,” Barrett Brown, president of NAACP Alamance, said in a press release.
The ACLU of North Carolina filed its lawsuit in a U.S. district court along with the national ACLU, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Lockamy law firm on behalf of the Alamance NAACP, a black civil rights group, and eight individuals, according to The News & Observer.
Graham police said they warned demonstrators outside the Alamance County courthouse several times to stop blocking the roadway before finally applying pepper spray to them.
Michelle Mills, Alamance County Coordinator for Community Involvement and Diversity, said the protesters endangered public safety by running a generator next to gas canisters, in violation of the city and police conditions for the demonstration.
Saturday’s demonstration was consistent with the “I Am Change” march organized by Reverend Gregory Drumwright for Friday and Saturday, the last days of personal early voting in the state. The march was designed to encourage people to vote early against the systematic oppression of minority groups.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.