North Carolina activists promise another Election Day march after being pepper sprayed
© News & Observer

North Carolina activists promised another march on Election Day after their Saturday demonstration resulted in the protesters, including multiple children, being pepper sprayed. 

Rev. Greg Drumwright, one of the organizers, announced on Sunday the plans for a new protest in Graham, N.C., during a press conference, the Raleigh News & Observer reported

“We’re coming even stronger,” said Drumwright, who was released from jail on Saturday on the condition of not returning to Graham for 72 hours.

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The City of Graham Police Department and the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill about the Election Day protest. 

The Greensboro, N.C., pastor led a march on Saturday of about 200 people from a local church to Court Square, including local officials urging people to vote in Tuesday’s election. The protest centered around calling for racial justice and for the Confederate monument in the city to be taken down.

The demonstrators held a moment of silence for George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis police custody in May. But shortly after, deputies from the Alamance County Sheriff's Office and the City of Graham Police Department told the crowd to disperse and subsequently deployed pepper fog on the road. 

The pepper spray caused several children to throw up and a woman in a motorized scooter to have a panic attack and convulse in a video shared online

Lt. Daniel Sisk of the Graham Police Department said during a Sunday press conference that the department regretted that children were affected by the pepper fog. 

“We didn’t want any children to get hurt,” he said. “We didn’t want anybody to get hurt. And the fact that the child was exposed to the pepper fog is unfortunate. But we were very clear on what we were trying to get people to do. We were trying to get people clear from the street.”

But Sisk said the pastor did not communicate enough with police to ensure the event’s safety, declined to do a walk-through with police and turned down city-suggested plans. 

He said protesters were not allowed to block the road but allowed them to stop for “eight minutes and 40 some seconds” for a moment of silence. 

“After about nine minutes, [we] told them they needed to clear the road,” he said. “Once it was clear that they had no intention to clear the road, we sprayed a couple sprays on the ground.”

The Graham Police Department has maintained its officers did not spray any demonstrator directly with chemicals, instead aiming for the road.