Sunday, September 26, 2021

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Avery Harvey, frequent protester, indicted on felony drug charge

An Alamance County grand jury has indicted one of the most frequent protesters in the ongoing racial justice demonstrations in downtown Graham on a felony charge of possession of cocaine.

Avery Markel Harvey, 30, black male, of 329 East Davis Street, Burlington, was indicted for alleged felony possession of cocaine, based on a true bill of indictment that was returned by a grand jury that heard evidence in the case earlier this month.

He was booked at the Alamance County jail at 11:24 p.m. on February 19 of this year and released on a $1,500 secured bond about an hour later.

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In all, Harvey was charged five times at four separate racial justice protests in downtown Graham between September and December of last year; a separate charge of assaulting a female for which he was arrested on September 5 appeared unrelated to his participation in BLM protests in Graham, based on his court file.

The pending felony charge also appears unrelated to Harvey’s participation in protests in downtown Graham.

Harvey was also charged during two separate protests in downtown Graham this spring. He was charged with misdemeanor failure to disperse and with violating a city ordinance on April 27, during a protest that apparently had been a spontaneous reaction to the fatal shooting of a black man, Andrew Brown, Jr., in Elizabeth City a week earlier.

That case appears to have been dismissed due to ongoing federal litigation surrounding the city’s protest ordinance, based on Alamance County court documents.

Harvey was charged with defacing a public building on May 5, for allegedly affixing a flag to the fence around the Confederate monument that stands at the north entrance to Alamance County’s Historic Court House. That case remains pending in district court, according to Harvey’s court file for that charge.

The court file contains no details about the circumstances leading to his arrest on the felony cocaine charge, or how much cocaine he allegedly possessed when he was arrested by the Graham police department. State law classifies cocaine as an illegal Schedule II controlled substance.

Alamance County assistant district attorney Kevin Harrison, who has been assigned to prosecute the 2020 protests, agreed earlier this year to dismiss an assault charge against Harvey, who had been charged on September 5 with misdemeanor assault on a female, identified on a warrant as Maya Graves, whom he allegedly punched “in the face with a closed fist.” Harvey was ordered to have no contact with Graves and ordered “not to return to her residence” while the case was pending, according to a release modification included in the court file.

Chief deputy Cliff Parker on November 16, 2020 at the county commissioners’ meeting in the upstairs courtroom of the Historic Court House giving instructions to three protesters: (left to right) Avery Markel Harvey, Kani Adon Bynum, and Regis Kishon Green; Green was subsequently arrested.

Harrison announced he would dismiss the case the same morning it was scheduled for trial, April 7 of this year, after the alleged victim failed to appear in court to testify. The court file identifies Graves as Harvey’s cousin, “not a girlfriend or someone with whom he has lived if married.”

On May 26, retired visiting district court judge Lunsford Long, III, of Orange County, found Harvey not guilty of resisting arrest during the October 31 protest in downtown Graham that ended with pepper spray. A now-former Graham police officer testified at Harvey’s trial in May that he had instructed him to move to a designated protest area that had been roped off near Sesquicentenial Park about an hour after the rally had ended. Long declared Harvey not guilty, saying it was “overbroad enforcement” to expect protesters to remain in the roped-off area indefinitely.

During his trial in May, Harvey was found guilty of impeding traffic at a protest in downtown Graham on September 26, but found not guilty of a second charge of disorderly conduct stemming from the same event. He also reached an agreement, during a backroom conference with cross-defendants and cross-victims, on May 26 not to proceed with several cases in which he had been charged with various misdemeanors and also claimed to have been assaulted, according to court documents.

During the May 26 conference, Harvey agreed not to proceed with a case stemming from an altercation on December 13. Harvey had been charged with disorderly conduct, for allegedly posing in a manner” indicating willingness to fight” and yelling profanities at three men near Sesquicentenial Park; two men involved in the same case were charged with similar offenses.

One of the other men involved pleaded guilty earlier this year and received a prayer for judgment. The other individual, Eddie Moore Mercer, Jr. of Graham, had been charged with assaulting Harvey during the December 13 incident; both he and Harvey agreed on May 26 not to proceed with the case, Harrison announced in open court after the backroom conference.

Harrison told the judge after returning to open court on May 26 that he would dismiss charges against two white counter-protesters who had allegedly assaulted Harvey at demonstrations in September and October of last year. Harrison dismissed assault charges against: Judy Elaine Stuart of Snow Camp (at a protest on September 21, in which Harvey was not charged); and Joseph Michael Wardwell of Burlington (Wardwell was charged with assault with a deadly weapon; Harvey, with simple affray). Harrison said all of the parties involved had agreed to drop the cases.

Harvey also had several pending traffic charges, unrelated to his participation in protests in Graham, earlier this year. Those were for: driving while license revoked (not impaired) and failing to stop at stop sign/red light in 2019; and driving while license revoked (not impaired) in 2019. The status of those charges was unclear at press time.

Harvey is currently scheduled to appear in superior court on August 16 for the felony charge, according to a notice of indictment that was served on Harvey via U.S. Mail last Monday.

Earlier this week during an encounter in a local convenience store, Harvey said that he is the new president of an Alamance County chapter of the Black Panthers.

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