With the unconstitutional ordinance already repealed, a recent settlement provides additional protections against future restrictions on residents’ rights to protest
GRAHAM, N.C. – A settlement agreement was reached with officials in the City of Graham in a lawsuit challenging officials’ repeated issuance of emergency declarations that limited the ability of people to move freely in Graham. The settlement agreement requires city officials to publicly justify and announce reasons for issuing future emergency orders that restrict the ability of people to protest in Graham’s courthouse square and near the city’s Confederate monument within 24 hours of issuance. It also requires officials to include information about how community members can submit comments or concerns about the orders.
The agreement will be in effect for one year. This settlement only resolves plaintiffs’ claims against the City of Graham Defendants. Plaintiffs continue to litigate First Amendment claims against Alamance County and the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office.
The Alamance NAACP is an organizational plaintiff in the case. Barrett Brown of the Alamance NAACP issued the following statement after the settlement agreement was filed with the court:
"The Alamance NAACP is glad to have reached an agreement that preserves the freedom to peacefully assemble. It is critical to our mission that we secure the political rights necessary to eliminate race-based discrimination. We will never waiver in our commitment to ensure the well-being of all people. It is now incumbent on our local government to act in good faith to preserve the fundamental democratic rights of all its residents, not just the ones who are part of the majority culture."
The ACLU, the ACLU of North Carolina, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and Lockamy Law Firm originally filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Alamance NAACP and 8 individuals in early July. The suit originally challenged an unconstitutional city ordinance that required a permit for all protests of two or more people and placed restrictions on the ability of minors to protest. The Graham City Council repealed the ordinance after plaintiffs filed the lawsuit. The original complaint was then amended to pursue claims against city and county officials, including a challenge to city officials’ issuance of emergency orders that restricted the ability of people to protest in Graham.