Here is a personal statement and an update on the Graham 9 – the group arrested at a Never Again Alamance protest last November.
On our first trial date, one member (who was charged with “masking” if you can believe it) received a Prayer for Judgement. The rest of us are charged with failure to disperse. Two had trials and were convicted. Those judgements will be appealed. The rest of us (including me) are now scheduled for trials in November and December.
The Burlington Times News wrote a quick story about the gathering we had before the trial with supporters, who came to walk us to court. They included an excerpt of the comments I made that morning as well as very thoughtful remarks from my co-defendant Xavier Adams.
Here is the full text of my statement:
I grew up next door in Orange County, and I’m here to stand with my neighbors both new and old who have had enough of the childish tantrums, violent threats, and racist intimidation in Alamance County. Sheriff Johnson must go, and he can take all the city and county officials that coddle racists and arrest racial justice supporters with him.
I am old enough to remember life before ICE. I was 30 when the planes struck the twin towers on September 11. To many of us at the time, the whole idea of a Department of Homeland Security smacked of nationalism and violence. And sure enough it has grown to become a source of xenophobia, violence, and human suffering for nearly 2 decades now. ICE is our gestapo: terrorizing communities, abandoning people in concentration camps, and tearing families apart.
As a Jew and as an American, I have a moral obligation to stand up for the rights of all people, not just those who look or act like me.
As a parent I have an obligation to try to make this world a better place for my son and all the kids he’s growing up with in these unfortunately historic times.
And as the descendant of immigrants who were also demonized and ghettoized and exploited, I know that today’s immigrants are my siblings coming to the United States for a better life just like my ancestors did.
So when I learned last year that Terry Johnson was not only terrorizing women and people of color of Alamance County with his authority but also taking money from ICE to lock up innocent migrants in the Alamance Detention Center, I knew I had to come to Graham and join with others in calling out his racism an in humanity.
This summer in Graham demonstrations have continued for civil rights, Black lives, and freedom. Unfortunately we’ve also seen a lot of ugly white supremacy on display. Many around NC and around the country have looked on in horror as Alamance County officials have not only allowed actual neo-Nazi and neo-Confederates to swarm the streets and intimidate people, but in fact have arrested peaceful demonstrators who had the audacity to simply disagree with racist symbols and policies.