Hundreds of protesters flood Graham streets calling for reform of police, criminal justice

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GRAHAM, N.C. — Hundreds of protestors said they’re “Ready for Change” in a march through the streets of Graham on Sunday afternoon.

Organizers called for police and criminal justice reform in Alamance County.

Reverend Gregory Drumwright led demonstrators during the three-hour event. Marchers were told to socially distance, wear a mask and stay on the sidewalks or close to the road since Drumwright didn’t have a permit from the city. 

“What do we want? Change. When do we want it? Now,” chanted marchers while leaving the starting point at Children’s Chapel United Church. 

“Change is here. We’re making a change by being in these streets marching and protesting,” said Michael Harris, who marched alongside Drumwright. 

In October, Drumwright organized the “I am Change: March to the Polls” rally that ended with pepper spray, arrests and charges for several people including two felony charges for himself.

“I stopped from work to do this because I have kids, five of them, and they could be a Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, a Trayvon Martin,” said Harris. 

Demonstrators made stops in front of the Graham Police Headquarters, Alamance County Courthouse and Alamance County Sheriff’s Office. Marchers could hear inmates banging on the windows inside the Alamance County Detention Center. Drumwright telling protestors racism is rooted in the county justice system. 

“We want police and criminal justice reform in this building,” said Drumwright. “Some of those people that are locked up should not be there right now.” 

He said community members have been shut out of conversations for reform with law enforcement leaders. Meanwhile, marchers were met with sheriff’s deputies outside the building.   

“We demand an apology,” said Drumwright. “All you sheriffs that are standing by, if it was your sons, daughters, you’d want an apology too.” 

“In these meetings that we’re not in, people need to speak up and speak out about racism,” added Harris. “We want to show our love and we want the love given back to us.” 

Counter-protesters spoke out too during the final stop along the march in Graham’s Court Sqaure. Graham police officers intervened in several heated exchanges.   

“We didn’t have a racist problem then,” said one counter-protestor who did not wish to share their name with FOX8. “There’s not a racist problem now, but you got people that create race problems.” 

Graham police and the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office report no arrests during the march. This is one of many protests this year sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Demonstrators have focused on issues like police brutality, voting rights and the Alamance County confederate monument. 

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