Over the past two weeks, thirteen activists have been arrested and slapped with outrageous felony and misdemeanor charges for their defense of the Durham community against white supremacists, first in relation to the toppling of a Confederate statue in front of the Durham courthouse on Aug. 14, and then for protesting in response to a planned Ku Klux Klan rally on Aug. 18. Most recently, three more activists were issued warrants on Aug. 28 and turned themselves in; two were arrested the day before.
Sheriff Andrews recently attempted unsuccessfully to prosecute activists with Inside-Outside Alliance for protest charges, and was exposed for his exaggerated attempts to target demonstrators. The IOA has held weekly protests at the jail for more than a year. These arrests are clearly a form of retaliation against the movement at large.
The jail that Andrews runs is an institution committed to the preservation and perpetuation of white supremacy. Under Andrews’ tenure, at least five people – Matthew McCain, Dennis McMurray, Niecey Fennell, Terry Lee, and Raphael Bennett — have died in the Durham County Jail due to the criminal conditions inside. Detainees have described the jail as being designed to “break you” and to “make you want to kill yourself.” Andrews has gone out of his way to cover up these deaths, and has made patently false statements about the conditions of the jail. Meanwhile, he has frustrated attempts by the community and elected officials to audit the conditions there, and has lied about the Durham County Sheriff’s collaboration with Immigration, Customs, and Enforcement (ICE).
In what can be described as nothing other than cruel and unusual, Andrews has recently taken steps to completely restrict in-person visitation for Durham County jail detainees, and only allow video visitation.
We say no more!
Stop the witchhunt against activists involved in protesting white supremacy!
Drop the charges against the 13 anti-racist activists!
End the criminal treatment of the people of Durham inside the Durham County Jail!