Two defendants who had been arrested at the march and rally in downtown Graham that ended with pepper spray on October 31, 2020 have had their charges dismissed.
The Alamance County district attorney’s office has voluntarily dismissed misdemeanor charges of failure to disperse on command that led to the arrests of two attorneys who reportedly came to Graham, on behalf of the state Democratic party, that day to ensure voters were able to access an early voting site at the corner of West Elm and Maple streets in downtown Graham. October 31 marked the last day of the early voting period for the 2020 general election in North Carolina.
Samson Oluwasegun Asiyanbi, 39, black male, of 910 M Street Northwest, Apartment 406, Washington, D.C., was charged with misdemeanor failure to disperse on command on October 31, according to his court file. Asiyanbi is a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, according to his online resume.
Kelly A. Skahan, 32, white female, 606 Lee Street, Seattle, Washington, was also charged with misdemeanor failure to disperse on command on October 31. Skaham is an associate attorney with the Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt law firm in Seattle, Washington, according to the firm.
Asiyanbi and Skahan had been among 10 defendants who were scheduled for trial in district court last Wednesday. Neither defendant’s case was called. Trials have been postponed for six other defendants whose cases had been listed on that day’s docket.
The court files for Asiyanbi and Skahan include identical notations, stating that their charges were voluntarily dismissed “in the interest of justice,” as both defendants were “finally vacating the area at the time of arrest.”
Alamance County assistant district attorney Kevin Harrison confirmed Tuesday for The Alamance News that he had dismissed the cases against Asiyanbi and Skahan. Harrison has been assigned to handle all of the cases related to protests held in downtown Graham during the second half of 2020.
Asiyanbi and Kelly Skahan were poll watchers in Graham on behalf of the state party and were referred to the party from the Biden campaign, according to Kate Frauenfelder, communications director for the N.C. Democratic Party. “Our poll watchers were volunteers looking to help out in the elections,” she told the newspaper Tuesday. “These are people who understand the importance of voter protection and will take off work to serve in these roles.”