3 arrested after NC protesters hold rally across from historic Graham courthouse


GRAHAM, N.C. (WGHP) — About 50 people protested in Graham against systemic racism on Saturday, and three people were arrested.

The protest was held across from the historic courthouse, which has drawn controversy recently.

Demonstrators made statements to request policing policy revisions of each of the municipalities within Alamance County as well as the relocation of the Confederate monument in downtown Graham.

“I think any symbol that represents hate and separation, I would like to see it removed,” said Claire Haslam, a member of Alamance Agents for Change. “You know, a monument is a thing, and it represents something greater than that, so I’d like that moved. I’d like systemic racism addressed in all of our systems.”

Late last month, At least 50 leaders in the county and surrounding towns and cities signed an open letter to Alamance County Commissioners and Graham Mayor Jerry Peterman

Alamance County Commissioners tell FOX8 they were not aware of the letter or morning news conference until 20 minutes before it started. 

The Alamance Burlington School System, Cone Health and Elon University are among those listed in the open letter to get the Confederate Statue in Graham moved from Courthouse Square. 

“As more of these monuments come down, the folks that have been working on those actions start to look at the remaining monuments,” Burlington Mayor Ian Baltutis said. “Our thought is that it shines a spotlight brighter on Courthouse Square.”

Alamance NAACP secretary Dorothy Yarborough sees the monument as a hurtful reminder in the heart of the city.

“We don’t want it torn down. It’s a part of history, but it’s not a good history for minorities,” she said. “Just not in front of the justice building that is supposed to be representing all of us.”

So who has the power to decide the fate of the statue? 

County Commissioner chair Amy Galey explained that per state and federal law, county officials do not have the power. 

She added that the monument in Graham is “an object of remembrance as defined by the North Carolina general statute,” giving it “different legal status than a statue of an individual person or commemoration of a battle or an event.” 

“We also did not make a decisive effort to reach out to anyone with a direct decision capability on the movement of the monument because they’ve had the capability for many years,” Baltutis said. 

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