Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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Charges dismissed against protester who had been ejected from county commissioners’ meeting in August

Alamance County assistant district attorney Kevin Harrison, who has been assigned to prosecute all of the cases involving arrests made during a series of protests in Graham in 2020, has dismissed two charges against Meg Williams, 31, white female, of 233 Thad Drive, Haw River.

Williams was one of eight defendants whose cases were scheduled to be heard in Alamance County criminal district court on Wednesday (see related story this edition).

Harrison confirmed for The Alamance News Wednesday afternoon that he had voluntarily dismissed the charges against Williams earlier in the day. “There was some question regarding the timing of the interruptions,” he added.

Williams was charged with disrupting an official meeting of the Alamance County commissioners while it was underway and resisting a public officer on August 17, 2020, according to her court file.

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Prior to her arrest, Williams had been addressing Alamance County’s commissioners – during a hearing they were holding on an incentives package the board was considering to entice UPS to build a warehouse in the Hawfields area industrial park – when she proceeded to warn the company’s representatives about “social conditions” in Alamance County. Williams had apparently predicated her comments on the protests and counter-protests that have centered largely on the Confederate monument that stands at the north entrance to the county’s Historic Court House in downtown Graham.

After she was advised by then-commissioner chairman Amy Galey (now a state senator) that her comments weren’t relevant to the proposed incentives package, Williams shouted at Galey, “I’m not leaving because I get five minutes to speak,” prompting the chairman to instruct deputies to lead Williams out of the meeting room.

No other charges appear to have been filed against Williams during the series of more than 50 protests held in downtown Graham following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody on May 25, 2020.


Another defendant barred from courthouse, pending COVID-19 test results
Meanwhile, during Wednesday’s court session, Harrison agreed to postpone two cases for Rikeah Nashea Johnson, 22, female, whose race is listed as “unspecified” on arrest warrants, of 1711 Vanderbilt Court, Graham.

Johnson had been scheduled to appear in district court for three misdemeanor charges filed two separate dates last September. On Saturday, September 5, 2020, Johnson was charged with disorderly conduct by fighting and resisting a public officer. She was allegedly drunk when she caused a disturbance by fighting with “the resident” at an apartment, according to the arrest warrant, which did not list the location of the alleged incident or the name of the resident involved.

Johnson was later charged with misdemeanor resisting a public officer, for allegedly attempting “to pull another subject who was under arrest” away from an Alamance County sheriff’s deputy – while the arrest was in progress – during a protest in downtown Graham on Saturday, September 26.

Her attorney, Jamie Paulen of Paulen Solidarity Law in Raleigh, announced in open court that her client had arrived at the J.B. Allen, Jr. (Criminal) Court House in Graham but was turned away during the COVID-19 symptom screening process, which in recent months has become a routine prerequisite to enter most public buildings in the county. “She can’t come in because she’s been exposed to COVID,” the attorney explained. Asked by the presiding judge whether Johnson had in fact tested positive, or is waiting on test results, Paulen said, “I think if you’re waiting on results they won’t let you in.”

Two other cases that were scheduled to be heard in district court on Wednesday have been postponed until later this month, Harrison confirmed for the newspaper. Graham attorney Kelly Fairman made an initial appearance Wednesday morning on behalf of Travis Scott Laughlin, 47, of 1111 McCormick Street, Greensboro, who is charged with disrupting a county commissioners’ meeting on November 16; she was granted a request to continue the case to April 7.

Coverage of other trials for 2020 protesters:

Protester who allegedly hit car with flagpole found not guilty (March 4 edition):

 Protester who took protest from county office building to jail parking lot found guilty (March 4 edition):

 In first cases stemming from Oct. 31 protest, protester found guilty (February 22 edition):

Case against man charged after he claimed he was accosted by protester dismissed (February 13):

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