Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

For Immediate Release


Don Owens, LCCR,,
Elizabeth Haddix, LCCR,
Barett Brown, Alamance NAACP,

Press Release

Civil Rights Groups Take on City of Graham’s Protest Limitations

Alamance County City With Confederate Monument Violates Free Speech With Restrictive Order

The city of Graham’s orders preventing groups of two or more people from protesting without police permission violates the First Amendment to the Constitution on rights to free speech and assembly, a coalition of civil rights groups led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Alamance County NAACP said today in a lawsuit and temporary restraining order (here and here). The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.

The suit was filed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, ACLU, ACLU of North Carolina and Lockamy Law Firm on behalf of Alamance NAACP and 8 individuals. 

Graham’s decree prevents groups of two or more people from protesting without police permission. On June 25, Mayor Jerry Peterman issued an executive order to shut down protests near a Confederate monument in Graham’s downtown. North Carolina civil rights and advocacy groups also will argue that the order places restrictions on speech in public forums and violates due process.

“The Confederate monument in Graham’s town square represents the racist past and present these protestors want to speak out against,”  said Elizabeth Haddix, managing attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “While the community is trying to reckon with its own racist history in the midst of police violence against Black citizens across the country and in Alamance County, the Sheriff and police are restricting the people’s basic rights to protest white supremacy.”

“Peace and justice should belong to everyone, everywhere and all the time,” said Barrett Brown, president of the Alamance branch of NAACP. “The city’s permit requirement and periodic protest ban violate our most fundamental rights to peacefully assemble and petition our government for redress.”

“I sought to gather with others to express support for Black lives, advocate for the removal of the monument, and for equally representative government, and I was denied that right.” said Tenae Turner, plaintiff. “It sends a clear message that racist monuments are valued more highly than Black lives and our constitutional rights.”

“This ordinance is a sweeping bar to the rights of people to freely assemble and protest in Graham. People have a constitutional right to gather and voice their concerns in public areas without fear of arrest, harassment, or intimidation from law enforcement,” said Kristi Graunke with the ACLU of North Carolina. “It is appalling that Alamance County officials would trample on the First Amendment rights of their own constituents for the sake of protecting a monument to white supremacy.”

“Any mayor, police chief, or governor who imposes such draconian restrictions on the right to protest should understand that they will be sued,” said Vera Eidelman, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. “The ACLU will hold accountable any government actor who violates the First Amendment.”

Combined with the restriction on protests, the city of Graham’s order originally included a curfew, all of which restrict citizen’s freedom of movement, speech and assembly, and are unconstitutional under federal and North Carolina law. The Alamance County Sheriff responded by placing deputies near the site to enforce the order.  


The Lawyers’ Committee is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to enlist the private bar’s leadership and resources in combating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity – work that continues to be vital today.

80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Progressives Rebuke Dem Leadership as Clyburn Dismisses Death of Roe as 'Anticlimactic'

"The gap between the Democratic leadership, and younger progressives on the question of 'How Bad Is It?' is just enormous."

Julia Conley ·

Sanders Says End Filibuster to Combat 'Outrageous' Supreme Court Assault on Abortion Rights

"If Republicans can end the filibuster to install right-wing judges to overturn Roe v. Wade, Democrats can and must end the filibuster, codify Roe v. Wade, and make abortion legal and safe," said the Vermont senator.

Jake Johnson ·

Patients in Trigger-Ban States Immediately Denied Abortion Care in Post-Roe US

Some people scheduled to receive abortions were turned away within minutes of the right-wing Supreme Court's decision to strike down Roe v. Wade.

Kenny Stancil ·

'Tip of the Iceberg': Thomas Says Court Should Reconsider Marriage Equality, Right to Contraception

"It is clear he and the court's majority have no respect for other precedents that have been won in recent decades," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo