3 “regulars” among courthouse protesters arrested (again), 2 for defacing new monument fence

An apparent protest over the newly-installed fence around the Confederate monument at the north side of the county’s Historic Court House led to three arrests last Wednesday evening (May 5). Two protesters are charged with defacing a public building, while a third is charged with disorderly conduct, according to Alamance County court documents.

Katherine Baxter Cassette, 38, white, female, 5982 Church Road, Graham, was charged with defacing a public statue or monument for allegedly attaching crime scene tape to the fence that was installed around the monument last month. She was released from the Alamance

Katherine Baxter Cassette

County jail at 7:58 p.m. last Wednesday night on a written promise to appear in district court next Monday. As a condition of her release, Cassette was ordered not to return to the Historic Court House for 48 hours, based on her court file.

Avery Markel Harvey, 30, black, male, 314 Field Street, Graham, was charged last Wednesday night with defacing a public building for allegedly attaching a “Black Lives Matter” flag to the fence around the monument. He was released from Alamance County jail at 8:10 p.m. last Wednesday on a $1,000 unsecured bond and given a June 15 court date, according

Avery Markel Harvey

to his court file. As a condition for his release, Harvey was also ordered not to return to the Historic Court House “unless on official business”; no time frame for that restriction is listed on his release order.

Maurice Wells, Jr., 34, black, male, 10 Aspen Drive, Apartment A, Greensboro, was charged with disorderly conduct last Wednesday night for allegedly using “abusive language,” which was directed at a Graham police officer and “intended and plainly likely to provoke immediate violent retaliation and thereby cause a breach of the peace,” according to his court file. He

Maurice Wells, Jr.

was released on a written promise to appear in court on July 6 and also ordered not to return to the Historic Court House for 48 hours, no earlier than 7:00 p.m. on Friday, May 7. (The order didn’t specify what time Wells was released from the jail.)

Graham police officers responded to a report of individuals blocking the roadway around the Historic Court House last Wednesday night, Graham police department spokesman Capt. Daniel Sisk subsequently told The Alamance News. “When officers arrived they observed a disturbance on the north side of the Historic Court House,” Sisk elaborated. “As some of those subjects were leaving, one stopped in the roadway and continued yelling at the sheriff’s deputies at the Court House grounds.”

One of the Graham police officers who responded to the scene ordered Wells to get out of the roadway, the spokesman said, adding that Wells refused and was charged with disorderly conduct as a result. The two other people involved (Cassette and Harvey) were charged by Alamance County sheriff’s deputies, Sisk told the newspaper earlier this week.

Cassette, Harvey, and Wells had also been arrested at protests in downtown Graham during the second half of 2020.

(Story continues below.)

Other protest-related coverage in this week’s edition:

Carrboro woman charged with trespassing after carrying protest into Court Square restaurant: https://alamancenews.com/additional-protester-arrested-for-uproar-in-busy-graham-eatery/

Out-of-town protest defendant makes Alford plea on October 31 charges:  https://alamancenews.com/one-out-of-town-protest-defendant-enters-alford-plea-at-trial/

An earlier disorderly conduct charge against Cassette was dismissed late last year. Wells was found guilty in late March of failing to disperse from a protest in downtown Graham on July 11, 2020. Two of the five charges that Harvey was arrested on last year were dismissed; he is scheduled to go to trial in district court later this month for the three other misdemeanor offenses he was charged with during protests in Graham last year.

Harvey was also charged on April 27 with misdemeanor failure to disperse and a city ordinance violation during an apparently spontaneous demonstration in downtown Graham over the fatal shooting of a black man, Andrew Brown, Jr., in Elizabeth City on April 21.

Graham police also arrested Theresa Frances Draughn, 37, white female, of 322 Caswell Street in Burlington, with failing to disperse and violating a city ordinance during the protest in Court Square on April 27, based on information that Sisk subsequently provided to The Alamance News. (Court files give no indication that Draughn had been charged at any of the nearly five dozen protests staged in downtown Graham following the May 25, 2020 murder of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.)

Harvey and Draughn are currently scheduled to appear in district court on July 27 for their alleged offenses during the protest in downtown Graham on April 27.

Meanwhile, Harvey is awaiting trial on multiple charges related to his participation in protests in downtown Graham last year.

Harvey is currently scheduled to go to trial in district court on May 26 for the following charges: disorderly conduct, for allegedly shouting an expletive at counter-protesters during a demonstration at the Historic Court House on September 26, 2020; for allegedly resisting a public officer during the march and rally in Graham that ended with pepper spray on October 31; and disorderly conduct, for allegedly posing “himself in a manner indicating a willingness to fight” during a dispute in Court Square with Robert (“Robbie”) Butler of Pittsboro on December 13, according to court documents.

Harvey is also scheduled to appear in district court on May 14 for a traffic citation and on June 7 for a felony cocaine possession charge, according to documents on file in the county’s court system.

For his role in the altercation with Harvey on December 13, Butler was also charged with disorderly conduct that was described as allegedly “shouting a racial slur,” Sisk said at the time in an interview with The Alamance News.

Trials began in Alamance County district court on February 17 – and remain ongoing – for most of the defendants who were arrested at protests in downtown Graham during the second half of 2020.

However, Butler’s case was heard February 1. He voluntarily pleaded guilty and received a prayer for judgment, according to his court file.

Alamance County assistant district attorney Kevin Harrison, who is handling most of the 2020 protest trials, dismissed a September 5 assault charge and an October 22 charge of simple affray against Harvey. The assault charge was dismissed after the alleged victim in the case failed to testify in court early last month.

Cassette had been previously charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct during a protest outside the Alamance County jail on September 8, 2020. Harrison dismissed that charge on December 21, reasoning that the “charged conduct does not constitute a crime,” the court file states.

Two other people were also arrested during the protest at the jail on September 8 of last year. Magdalene Tucker Blunk, 28, white, female, of 227 Flemington Road, Chapel Hill.

Cassette’s husband, Nicholas Cassette, 36, black, male, of 5982 Church Road, Graham, went to trial on March 31 and was found guilty of resisting an officer – but not guilty of inciting a riot and second-degree trespass – during the protest at the jail on September 8.

Asked why he had dismissed the disorderly conduct charge against Katherine Cassette but prosecuted the other two defendants who were charged with the same offense during the same protest at the jail on September 8, Harrison pointed to differences in their conduct.

“[Katherine Cassette’s] conduct differed in manner and intensity” from her husband’s, as well as that of Blunk, Harrison told the newspaper two weeks ago. Court documents show that Katherine Cassette was the only one of the three people arrested during the protest at the jail on September 8 who hadn’t been charged with resisting an officer.

Blunk was arrested on September 8, when she began “using abusive language,” which she magnified with a bullhorn. Alamance County sheriff’s deputies testified that the feared would cause a riot or violence to break out inside the jail, as the inmates could hear the commotion outside and started beating on the windows, based on testimony given during her trial on March 3. Testimony given at the March 31 trial for Nicholas Cassette mirrored the same concerns that deputies spoke of during Blunk’s trial.

Nicholas Cassette is appealing his March 31 conviction of resisting an officer to Alamance County superior court. Blunk was convicted of disorderly conduct and resisting a public officer at her trial on March 3; she was given a prayer for judgment and ordered to pay a fine and court costs.