Charges dropped for 4 Graham protesters

A step in the right direction:

A visiting judge dismissed charges on Wednesday against a local NAACP president and three others who defied a protest ban in Graham, a small city in the central Piedmont region of North Carolina, last summer.

Sheriff's deputies arrested Barrett Brown, president of the Alamance County NAACP, after he picked up a "Black Lives Matter" sign during a July 25 press conference and walked across the street to hold it while standing next to a divisive Confederate monument in front of the Historic Courthouse. Three others, including a Democratic member of the county board of elections, walked over to join Brown and were also arrested.

They should have never been arrested in the first place. Barrett and Trina are friends of mine, both dedicated to seeking justice for those who have been marginalized in our County (Alamance). Here's more on the ongoing saga of suppressing peaceful protests:

Long's decision to dismiss charges against the four defendants came on the heels of a ruling last week dismissing charges against another man, Matthew Edwards, who had been arrested for holding a "Black Lives Matter" sign on a public sidewalk in Graham a month earlier. District Attorney Sean Boone told Raw Story last week that Judge Long's dismissal of the charges against Edwards did not sway his intentions to try the case against Brown and his co-defendants. "We evaluate each case on its own facts and merits, and will do so with the cases you referenced," he wrote in an email. "We will not be peremptorily dismissing them at this time."

Along with co-defendants Rev. Walter Allison, Noah Read and Amie Christina Harrison, Brown celebrated the outcome in the hallway outside the courtroom with their attorneys from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

"I'm confused as to why they continued to pursue this," Brown said. "To me, it speaks to the narrative we're experiencing in Graham, with the Confederate monument, martial law and the refusal to rename the park. They're dead-set against the kind of change that would move the county forward"

The park referenced is currently sitting directly on the site where Wyatt Outlaw was lynched by the Klan in 1870. He deserves his own monument, as I requested in this Op-Ed back in 2017:

History is important, we are told. Honoring those brave souls from Alamance County who died in the Civil War 150 years ago remembers their sacrifice, we are told. But that memory is flawed, it is incomplete, and it leaves out one of the bravest men who ever set foot in Alamance County. That man was Wyatt Outlaw, and it’s long past time for not only our community, but our elected officials as well, to honor him and install a memorial so he can be remembered.

When Wyatt Outlaw escaped from his bonds of slavery, he didn’t seek a safe place to live out his days. He joined the Union Army and fought for not only his own continued freedom but the freedom of all those kept in bondage. He wasn’t an enemy of Alamance County, he was an ally for the one-third of the County’s population who were enslaved. Make no mistake, those African-Americans were not merely “workers” as an apparently confused local official recently claimed, they were personal property. Bought and sold, like cattle. And if we are to further believe this local official, that parcels of land were granted in appreciation for their service, where are these plots of land now? These gifts? Maybe you’ll have better luck finding them than I did.

But fighting in the war wasn’t the last act of bravery for Wyatt Outlaw. In a move that he had to know would put his life in serious jeopardy, he came back home. Because he knew the real work was just getting started. The hard work, the virtually impossible work: To somehow figure out how freed slaves and their former masters could live together, rebuild their community side by side, and not at the business end of a horsewhip.

Can you imagine? Can anybody reading this say, with a straight face, they would return to the place they had been kept in shackles, had been forced to toil in the fields from sunup to sundown, snatching a few hours of sleep because the new dawn would bring only more of the same? I can’t say it. I would have moved as far away from that place as I could get, and then hopped on a boat to get even farther away. But he didn’t. Wyatt Outlaw came back, and that cost him something slavery and even a bloody war didn’t take away —his life.

Just a heads-up: the main article I linked at the top is from Raw Story, where my friend Jordan Green (formerly of Triad City Beat) is now working. Keep an eye on his work there, because he has covered white supremacists like nobody else.