Alamance battleground: Protesters arrested for stepping in jail parking lot

Sheriff Terry Johnson is nothing more than a petty tyrant:

The demonstration took a turn, however, once the march reached the jail. Deputies quickly arrested and detained Nicholas Cassette for not complying with orders to vacate the parking lot in a fast enough manner. Though officers sequestered protestors to the sidewalk along West Pine Street, protestors didn't know they weren't allowed in the parking lot.

Liles was taken into custody after trying to help Nicholas Cassette, and Blunk was arrested for doing the same with Liles. Half an hour after the initial arrests, officers arrested Katherine Cassette for having used what they believed to be foul language.

Foul language? Some 100 inmates in that jail have been stricken by COVID 19, and these idiots are concerned about foul language? It doesn't get much more absurd than that. The protest originated at the County Courthouse, in response to the all Republican County Commissioners' ruling that Graham's Confederate statue cannot be removed:

The county's attorney said further historical research determined the Graham statue is owned by Alamance County and sits on county property. "On May 16, 1914 it was presented to the county, was accepted by the county, and it sits on county property," he explained.

However, officials said it still cannot be moved due to a North Carolina law, because county governments must follow state law. "In North Carolina, we’re not a home rule state. County government is obliged to follow state law, we don’t have any law other than that."

The 2015 North Carolina general statute 100-2.1 states that an object of remembrance on public property may not be permanently removed and may only be relocated under circumstances set forth in law.

"If you want to move it to a location other than where it sits it must be permanently relocated at a site of similar prominence, honor, visibility, and access that are within the boundaries of the county," he stated in regards to the law.

And that's a law that needs to be removed. Republicans passed it so this exact conundrum would occur. And these particular County Commissioners are happy to comply, even if it flies in the face of 21st Century equality desires and endangers lives and commerce downtown. The only people who can fix this are the voters.



Make that 121 cases

And if anybody's waiting for Terry Johnson to do something about it, it will be a long wait:

The current outbreak is plaguing the entire population of the Alamance County Detention Center, which includes local U.S. citizens, ICE detainees and federal prisoners brought in by the U.S. Marshals Service. Some are pre-trial detainees who have not yet been convicted of a crime, but can’t make bail and so remain locked up.

The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office, which oversees the facility, declined to comment on the number of COVID-19-positive inmates within each group. Nine staff and 112 incarcerated people currently have the virus, which was first reported on Aug. 24.

Prior to these positive cases, Alamance County’s jail reported no previous COVID-19 outbreak.

Since June, the sheriff’s office repeatedly declined to provide North Carolina Health News the number of tests it had conducted within the facility or its policy around when people incarcerated inside were tested.

I have yet to attend any of these protests, for fear my involvement would have an adverse impact on some of my other community efforts. I was recently placed on the Public Transit Advisory Commission, which oversees Burlington's Link Transit program. I'm a fierce advocate of public transit, and this gives me the ability to influence routes and stops, and other aspects of the program. I'm also a planning board chairman for our town, and a candidate for elected office. Our local gossip rag did a hit job on my friend Kristen Powers (County Commission candidate), by posting a front-page picture of her at a Silent Sam protest, and she lost after that. I have no doubt they would do the same to me, and I've worked too hard to bring about progressive change in this area to lose what influence I have gained.

Do I question that political standoffishness? Very often. But while protests can bring about change, if you don't have the right people inside government, that change will never be what is really needed.