On October 31, the last day of early voting and same-day voter registration in North Carolina, and three days before the November 2020 General Elections, law enforcement officers planned and orchestrated the violent dispersal of a peaceful and nonpartisan march to a polling place in Graham, North Carolina. Participants in the “I am Change March to the Polls” were physically injured when officers used pepper spray on peaceful marchers, including children, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
Terrified by these actions and suffering the painful effects of pepper spray, many participants, were unable to proceed to the polls that day. Multiple individuals, including Rev. Gregory Drumwright who is the lead plaintiff in the case, were unlawfully arrested. The Alamance County magistrate banned those arrested from returning to the City of Graham
for 72 hours.
On November 2, 2020, the ACLU of North Carolina and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on behalf of the individual plaintiffs Rev. Gregory Drumwright and Ann Jones, as well as organization Justice for the Next Generation, an unincorporated association of community organizations organizing for racial justice and an end to police violence and other forms of systemic racial oppression.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina and aims to protect protesters’ rights to free speech and assembly under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as well as rights protected under Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act. Police violence over the weekend is cited as a violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which was initially enacted to protect the suffrage rights of formerly enslaved people, including by protecting them and their supporters from violence, intimidation, and harassment.