Additional protester arrested for uproar in busy Graham eatery

Ann Humphreys of Carrboro has been charged with misdemeanor second-degree trespass for allegedly creating a disturbance two weeks ago inside the Graham Soda Shop & Grill at 22 Northeast Court Square.

Ann Humphreys during a demonstration last fall in Graham’s Court Square. Photo courtesy of Anthony Crider.

Humphreys, 51, white, female, of 100 High Street, Carrboro, was charged with second-degree trespass on April 30, based on her court file. Though she had been a frequent presence at protests in Graham during the second half of last year – and has since testified for several defendants after the “2020 protest trials” began in Alamance County district court in mid-February – the self-described professional hoola hoop instructor and a book editor had not been charged with any alleged criminal violations during any of the protests held in Graham after the May 25, 2020 murder of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, which sparked the local protests.

Now, Humphreys joins a growing roster of defendants arrested at protests in the city’s historic business district – staged largely by people who appear to align with the Black Lives Matter movement – that are continuing to unfold nearly a month after the April 20 conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in Floyd’s murder.

Humphreys had initially been among a group of more than two dozen protesters who came inside the Graham Soda Shop and caused a disturbance around dinnertime on Wednesday, April 28, according to Jennifer Talley, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Chuck Talley.

“They were arguing with other customers and beating on the windows – yelling, screaming, using profanity and racial slurs,” Talley recalled this week in an interview with The Alamance News.

Other protest-related coverage in this week’s (May 13) edition:

Out-of-town protest defendant makes Alford plea on October 31 charges:

Three “regulars” at protests arrested (again), two for defacing new monument fence:

The restaurant’s employees initially asked the protesters to leave, but they refused, Talley said in the interview. When they refused, her employees asked a legal observer who had accompanied the protesters – as part of program sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild to observe and document potentially unlawful arrests – to ask the crowd to leave, but they again refused, said Talley, who is also a member of the Graham city council.

One family that had been seated at the front of the restaurant left hurriedly after the commotion caused their child to start squalling, Talley recalled. Graham police responded to a call about the disturbance and finally got the protesters to disperse, she said.

None of the protesters who had come inside the Graham Soda Shop & Grill on April 28 were charged in connection with that event, though two people had been arrested the night before during another protest in Court Square, according to the Graham police department.

Protesters had initially gathered in downtown Graham before they went inside the Soda Shop, according to Graham police Capt. Daniel Sisk, who also serves as the department’s spokesman. Graham police officials later attributed the April 28 protest in downtown Graham to the April 21 shooting of Andrew Brown, Jr. in Elizabeth City.

The demonstration itself complied with a provision in the city’s newly-revised ordinance that allows for spontaneous protests over “significant events” occurring within a 36-hour span and do not require advance notice to be given to the Graham police department, Sisk said.

“The significant event in this case involved a judge’s denial in immediately releasing the body-worn camera footage associated with the shooting [in Elizabeth City,” according to the police department’s spokesman. “During the demonstration, officers responded to the Graham Soda Shop concerning a group of people who refused to leave. When officers arrived, they determined that the group was associated with the demonstration downtown. The demonstrators were advised that they were trespassing and voluntarily left the location without incident.”

Humphreys was charged with second-degree trespass because she had returned to the restaurant the following day, “trying to film” and creating a disturbance that Talley said seemed to have made her employees and diners feel uncomfortable.

Humphreys is currently scheduled to appear in district court for the charge on June 1, according to her court file.


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