QUESTION: Was Gibsonville alderman Bryant Crisp one of the protesters on hand last week outside Graham’s city council meeting? And why was he there? Doesn’t he have enough to do in his role in Gibsonville?
ANSWER: Crisp, contacted this week by The Alamance News, readily acknowledged his participation in last week’s protest outside the Graham city council chambers. And, for part of the meeting, he was inside the council chambers listening to two protesters – Faith Cook and Amanda Perry – who addressed the city council that night.
In the days leading up to the Graham meeting, Crisp posted his views on Facebook, as well: “We need our people with us! Who’s coming out? Are you just going to talk or are you going to be about action?” and “We’re going back to demand his termination. The city manager has to terminate [Graham police officer Douglas Strader].”
Crisp was one of about a half dozen protesters at last week’s Graham city council meeting.
In an interview with The Alamance News this week, Crisp stressed his First Amendment right to be involved in the protest and to voice his support for Graham residents who continue to oppose Graham’s hiring of Douglas Strader, a former Greensboro policeman who was fired by that city in September 2020.
Much of Crisp’s focus, as with other protesters, is on Strader’s involvement with seven other Greensboro officers, who were present on September 8, 2018 at the time of the death of Marcus Smith while in police custody. Crisp held a sign, “Strader is a killer,” during the Graham protest last Tuesday. Multiple investigations by Greensboro and other authorities found no officer culpable in Smith’s death; the city agreed to a $2.57 million settlement with his family earlier this year.
Strader was fired in 2020, after a separate incident in 2019 in which he fired his weapon at a fleeing vehicle.
[Story continues below background on Graham’s hiring of Douglas Strader.]
See coverage of Strader’s initial hiring and police chief’s defense of the decision:
Other aspects of this week’s coverage of officer Douglas Strader’s hiring and two controversies he was involved in while serving in Greensboro Police Department:
Graham police chief defends decision to hire officer fired by Greensboro Police Department: https://alamancenews.com/graham-chief-defends-hiring-policeman-fired-by-greensboro/
Statement from the Graham Police Department on hiring Douglas Strader: https://alamancenews.com/statement-from-graham-police-dept-on-hiring-of-douglas-a-strader-formerly-with-greensboro-police-dept/
Strader fired one year about shooting at fleeing vehicle; city manager denies his appeal of the firing: https://alamancenews.com/straders-decision-to-shoot-at-fleeing-vehicle-gets-him-fired/
Strader was present in Greensboro during the encounter with Marcus Smith and his subsequent death, but officers not held responsible: https://alamancenews.com/death-of-marcus-smith-in-greensboro-police-custody-tragic-but-officers-not-implicated/
See Greensboro Police Department body-cam video from the tragic encounter with Marcus Smith: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P55gefPZDVM
Crisp who said his fiance’ is from Graham and that other family members and friends are Graham residents. “They don’t feel safe,” he said. Crisp says he “agrees with people who don’t want him here.
“They fear he would do some of the same things [he did in Greensboro and an earlier incident this year]. That premonition had come true.”
Crisp pointed also to Strader’s involvement in a situation at the Pines Apartments in Graham in April as evidence of why Strader should be fired.
Protesters last week and earlier this year say they believe Strader roughed up one of the residents, Wesley Cobb, a 19-year-old black male of 736-G Ivey Road. According to Crisp, the teenager was merely “filming from his own yard.” Cobb was one of three people arrested that day for allegedly interfering with officers during a traffic stop. Wesley Cobb was charged with assaulting a police officer and a government official.
Two other residents, Christopher Lee Jordan, a 29-year-old white male of 740-A Ivey Road; and Matthew Cobb, a 22-year-old black male from 736-G Ivey Road, were subsequently charged with failing to comply with an officer’s lawful command and for resisting, obstructing and delaying law enforcement.
See earlier coverage of the Pine Apartments arrests and controversy May 1, 2022: https://alamancenews.com/special-report-the-pines-apts-in-graham-growing-concern-for-law-enforcement-over-drugs-guns-gangs/
As for his responsibilities as an elected official in Gibsonville, Crisp ensures that his protest in Graham “doesn’t take me from doing my job [as an alderman].”
Crisp also disputed the idea that protesters outside the meeting chambers were trying to “disrupt” the council’s proceedings inside. At least one protester stood outside the emergency exit door aiming a bullhorn toward the council chambers, shouting “Strader is a murderer,” and other epithets, sometimes including vulgar and obscene phrases, as well.
“They were still able to conduct business,” Crisp noted of Graham’s city council.
He said protesters “feel that they are unheard” in Graham. “They’re asking questions, but not getting any answers,” he said.
Asked how he would feel if protesters shouted outside a large window (in the town hall chambers) which faces the street in downtown Gibsonville while the aldermen were meeting in their chambers, Crisp said he did not believe Gibsonville residents feel “unheard.”
Will he continue to march and protest in Graham? Yes, he said he would come again “if Graham residents continue to feel unheard.”
See other Public Asks in this week’s (August 18) edition:
Can former Graham resident speak during “public comment” portion of council meeting? https://alamancenews.com/the-public-asks-can-former-resident-speak-at-graham-council-meeting/
What’s being built at the corner of South Mebane Street and Alamance Road? https://alamancenews.com/the-public-asks-whats-being-built-at-south-mebane-street-and-alamance-road/
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