A group of protesters expressed outrage Saturday (Oct. 31) after police in Graham, North Carolina, used pepper spray to break up a march to the polls on the state’s last day of early voting.
The “I Am Change” march was marketed as an event to honor of Black people whose deaths ignited protests over racial injustice, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Trayvon Martin, among others, CNN reports.
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Violence erupted after a moment of silence, with officers pepper spraying, alleging the demonstration was deemed “unsafe and unlawful” due to unspecified “actions,” the report says.
Scott Huffman, a North Carolina Democratic congressional candidate who attended the march, said demonstrators were only exercising their First Amendment rights when law enforcement used the pepper spray in Graham, about 30 miles east of Greensboro.
“We were peacefully demonstrating, we were exercising our First Amendment rights with Black Lives Matter,” Huffman said in a video he shared on Twitter.
At least eight people were arrested during the rally on various charges, including failure to disperse and one instance of assault on a law enforcement officer, CNN writes.