ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Five members of the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office shared testimony Wednesday on the first day of the trial against Reverend Gregory Drumwright.
The activist is accused of resisting a public officer, public disturbance and failure to disperse from a March to the Polls event he organized Oct. 31 of last year.
The march made national headlines after police broke up the event with pepper spray and arrested several marchers, including Drumwright.
Prosecutors discussed a “flashpoint” in the rally when a member of the sheriff’s office attempted to seize a generator that was powering audio for the event. The generator was prohibited in a permit Drumwright obtained.
Counsel for the defense asked law enforcement officers about their training in de-escalation and questioned if organizers were contacted about the generator before they attempted to seize it.
According to testimony, the seizure of the generator prompted an altercation between marchers and deputies. One corporal was knocked to the ground, resulting in injuries.
Following the first day of the trial, Drumwright’s legal team, including civil rights attorney Ben Crump, gathered outside the courthouse.
Drumwright’s attorney, Jason Keith, said the team learned new details about preparations law enforcement agencies made prior to the event.
“There’s no need to have a SWAT unit come out here with rubber bullets and rifles and tactical gear and camouflage with helmets on when we have children, mothers, fathers, grandparents elderly people, school teachers that just want to register to vote,” he said.
The team called on a full release of footage from the day of the march. Alamance County deputies do not have body-worn cameras, but they believe footage from Graham police officers also at the event will paint a better picture of what happened.
“What we saw in the video was the opposite of de-escalation. It was escalation. It was a flagrant assault on their First Amendment rights. Just watch the video for yourself. You’ll see that they are trying to intimidate these young people for registering people to vote,” Crump said.
Drumwright only spoke briefly to thank his family and supporters.
The trial is set to resume on Sept. 8.