Authorities pepper spray, arrest people in North Carolina after traffic blocked during voter rally

A voting rally in Graham became chaotic when police pepper-sprayed and arrested marchers after they blocked traffic Saturday afternoon.Hundreds people gathered near the courthouse to hear people speak about voting rights near a polling location, which also happened to be the site of summer protests near the Confederate monument.Click the video player above for more information about the voter rally.The Graham Police Department said a local activist organized a march to the downtown historic courthouse. He was directed to petition for permission to temporarily close the road for the march, but because of deadlines and proximity to a polling site, this was denied.A permit was issued to use county property to hold a rally, and police said they worked with the organizer to stay out of streets that were needed for voting access. A public safety plan was provided for the march.Marchers blocked the street during the rally for more than nine minutes, according to police. Traffic began to back up.Police said the group was given a warning to clear the roadway, and when people failed to do so, they were sprayed with pepper spray.Once people were out of the street, they were allowed to speak on the stage, but within an hour, police said “as a result of actions that occurred within the rally, on courthouse grounds, the assembly reached a level of conduct that led to the rally being deemed unsafe and unlawful by unified command.”People were ordered to disperse, people were arrested and pepper spray was used again, police said.Lindsay Ayling, a graduate student and anti-racism activist who participated in the rally, told The Associated Press police used tear gas indiscriminately and without reason on the crowd, including on children.“The police were looking for excuses to use pepper spray and arrest members of the crowd,” she said.The Graham Police Department arrested eight people for resisting delay and obstruction, failure to disperse and assault on a law enforcement officer.The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office told sister station WXII-TV that multiple people were arrested during Saturday’s protest at and around the Historic Courthouse. More information on the number of people will be released later.While reports on Twitter also stated tear gas was used, Lt. Daniel Sisk confirmed to WXII that tear gas was not used by officials in Graham.The march was supposed to encourage people to vote on North Carolina’s final day of early voting.North Carolina District 13 congressional candidate Scott Huffman was taking part in the rally when he said he was pepper sprayed. He tweeted about his experience, which he said caused him and his campaign staff manager to lose each other in the crowd.”I urge everyone to exercise their right to vote,” Huffman said in his Twitter video. “I can’t ask you enough, if you aren’t voting for me, at least use your right to vote.”

A voting rally in Graham became chaotic when police pepper-sprayed and arrested marchers after they blocked traffic Saturday afternoon.

Hundreds people gathered near the courthouse to hear people speak about voting rights near a polling location, which also happened to be the site of summer protests near the Confederate monument.

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Click the video player above for more information about the voter rally.

The Graham Police Department said a local activist organized a march to the downtown historic courthouse. He was directed to petition for permission to temporarily close the road for the march, but because of deadlines and proximity to a polling site, this was denied.

A permit was issued to use county property to hold a rally, and police said they worked with the organizer to stay out of streets that were needed for voting access. A public safety plan was provided for the march.

Marchers blocked the street during the rally for more than nine minutes, according to police. Traffic began to back up.

Police said the group was given a warning to clear the roadway, and when people failed to do so, they were sprayed with pepper spray.

Once people were out of the street, they were allowed to speak on the stage, but within an hour, police said “as a result of actions that occurred within the rally, on courthouse grounds, the assembly reached a level of conduct that led to the rally being deemed unsafe and unlawful by unified command.”

People were ordered to disperse, people were arrested and pepper spray was used again, police said.

Lindsay Ayling, a graduate student and anti-racism activist who participated in the rally, told The Associated Press police used tear gas indiscriminately and without reason on the crowd, including on children.

“The police were looking for excuses to use pepper spray and arrest members of the crowd,” she said.

The Graham Police Department arrested eight people for resisting delay and obstruction, failure to disperse and assault on a law enforcement officer.

The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office told sister station WXII-TV that multiple people were arrested during Saturday’s protest at and around the Historic Courthouse. More information on the number of people will be released later.

While reports on Twitter also stated tear gas was used, Lt. Daniel Sisk confirmed to WXII that tear gas was not used by officials in Graham.

The march was supposed to encourage people to vote on North Carolina’s final day of early voting.

North Carolina District 13 congressional candidate Scott Huffman was taking part in the rally when he said he was pepper sprayed. He tweeted about his experience, which he said caused him and his campaign staff manager to lose each other in the crowd.

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“I urge everyone to exercise their right to vote,” Huffman said in his Twitter video. “I can’t ask you enough, if you aren’t voting for me, at least use your right to vote.”