Law Enforcement Likely Violated 1st Amendment Rights Of Graham Protesters, Federal Court Determines

Aug 7, 2020

Protesters gathered in Graham, the seat of Alamance County, on July 1, 2020.
Credit Jason deBruyn / WUNC

A federal court issued an emergency ruling this week, saying law enforcement likely violated the First Amendment rights of protesters in Alamance County. Protesters against police brutality and racial injustice have been met with stiff opposition from city and county officials, and from Confederate sympathizers.

Law enforcement have been placing limitations on where and when protesters can gather. They've kept them away from the confederate monument in downtown Graham, and the city had declared a state of emergency to restrict protests.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law cheered the ruling which was issued by federal judge Catherine Eagles, but said a good amount of damage has already been done.

Tenae Turner has attended several of the protests and says too many people in Alamance County already see their protests as un-American.

"So when we're placed behind police tape and you have police guarding the very thing that we're protesting, you know, it reaffirms that irrational fear,” said Turner. 

Turner argues police protect Confederate sympathizers more than the anti-racist protesters.

"We're made to seem like criminals. It's like we're put in this one place and put on display as if we are zoo animals."

More protests are planned in downtown Graham for Friday night.