Special News Series: Rising Up For Justice! – North Carolina police pepper spray, arrest peaceful protesters going to the polls


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Introduction To This Series:

This post is one installment in an ongoing news series: a “living history” of the current national and international uprising for justice.

Today’s movement descends directly from the many earlier civil rights struggles against repeated injustices and race-based violence, including the killing of unarmed Black people. The posts in this series serve as a timeline of the uprising that began on May 26, 2020, the day after a Minneapolis police officer killed an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, by kneeling on his neck. The viral video of Floyd’s torturous suffocation brought unprecedented national awareness to the ongoing demand to truly make Black Lives Matter in this country.

The posts in this series focus on stories of the particular killings that have spurred the current uprising and on the protests taking place around the USA and across the globe. Sadly, thousands of people have lost their lives to systemic racial, gender, sexuality, judicial, and economic injustice. The few whose names are listed here represent the countless others lost before and since. Likewise, we can report but a few of the countless demonstrations for justice now taking place in our major cities, small towns, and suburbs.

To view the entire series of Rising Up for Justice! posts, insert “rising up” in the search bar above.

North Carolina police pepper spray, arrest peaceful protesters going to the polls

Organizer of the ‘I Am Change’ rally say law enforcement were trying to intimidate the large crowd from voting.

By Gerren Keith Gaynor, The Grio

November 1, 2020

Graham protesters pepper sprayed on their way to vote
A rally and march to the polls in Graham, N.C. on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020 was cut short after pepper-spray was used multiple times in the presence of children and elderly citizens. Several people were arrested.

What was supposed to be a peaceful march to encourage residents in Graham, North Carolina to cast their ballots on the last day of early voting Saturday resulted in a chaotic scene, where police violently arrested and pepper-sprayed protesters — including children and the elderly.

About 200 demonstrators gathered for the “I Am Change” rally in which participants planned to march to a local polling station. Before heading to the polls, the demonstrators gathered for an event outside of the Alamance County Courthouse. They chose the location because of a Confederate statue that stands on the government property.

After a few speakers, however, Graham police and Alamance County sheriff officers interrupted the event and told the crowd to leave because they were blocking a roadway and causing traffic, reports WUNC. While police claim they told demonstrators they had five minutes to disperse, witnesses say they were pepper sprayed before they had a chance to move…

The peaceful rally quickly turned into a violent scene as officers pepper sprayed the crowd, which also included young children and the elderly. One graphic video shows a Black woman in a wheelchair moving wildly before falling out of the chair due to the chemical burning her eyes…

Video posted online shows demonstrators were peaceful, including a Facebook Live stream. What’s more, the violent police encounter reportedly stopped most of the marchers from going to their intended destination: the polling station.

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