It might’ve been Graham’s mayor who issued the emergency declaration that temporarily prohibited demonstrations in Court House Square over the weekend. But the blowback from this measure has apparently extended beyond mayor Jerry Peterman and his colleagues in Graham’s municipal government.
Among those who’ve caught some of the subsequent flak is Alamance County’s sheriff Terry Johnson, who has been the target of much of the criticism over the city’s moratorium on protests.
Byron Tucker, a spokesman for the sheriff ’s office, insists that neither Johnson nor the office he represents was directly involved in the city’s decision not to permit any demonstrations or rallies in front of Alamance County’s Historic Court House. Although Tucker had issued a news release about this prohibition on Friday, he insists that he had done so merely as a courtesy to the city of Graham.
“We assisted the city with communication in getting the news out,” he elaborated, “and now all of a sudden, the sheriff is going to be dethroned…We’ve received emails from about 50 citizens calling for the sheriff ’s resignation and all that rigmarole.”
Tucker added that the emails which his office has received are of a form-letter variety that appears to be circulating among students and others affiliated with Elon University. The template, which one person sent in without having filled in the blanks for the sender’s name and affiliation, demands Johnson’s immediate resignation for “his ban of any form of protest in Graham.”
“Not only does this clear rejection of the First Amendment deem Johnson unfit for the position,” the missive continues, “his history of bigotry and racially charged behavior is never how we want to be represented as a community.”
The letter goes on to call for “a new election” for sheriff “to be held when it is safe to do so” as well as “training reforms” within Johnson’s agency, which the author of this squib misidentifies as “the Alamance County PD.”