Durham Co. Sheriff’s Office appears to be source of Klan rumors that triggered rally

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The Durham County Sheriff’s Office responded Sunday about the source of rumors about a Friday Durham KKK presence that triggered a massive rally that lasted several hours.

CBS North Carolina reached out Sunday to the Sheriff’s Office following social media postings linking a Sheriff’s Office employee as the source for the belief that white supremacists would demonstrate on Friday.

The Sheriff’s Office shared a statement with CBS North Carolina in response to “the concerns raised by two Durham attorneys and a Durham City Council member on social media.”

Durham County deputies Friday urged people not to spread rumors. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

A Durham County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman told CBS North Carolina that “none of those parties contacted him [the Sheriff] directly to share their grievance or to seek an explanation.”

RELATED: 1 charged as Durham police in riot gear clear streets of protesters

The statement attributed to Sheriff Mike Andrews was then posted on the Durham County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

It read in part that the Sheriff’s Office did get information that included “rumored Klan sightings with the potential of putting lives at risk.”

Andrews’ statement then admitted that the Sheriff’s Office did notify leaders of the rumored KKK presence.

“Sharing that information with key individuals, including a representative of demonstrators who were staged outside the courthouse Friday morning, was in no way a signal for them to independently sound the alarm ahead of law enforcement, potentially triggering needless panic and anxiety,” the Sheriff wrote in his statement. “Our goal was to avoid the possibility of groups with opposing viewpoints violently clashing in the streets of Durham.”

Andrews’ statement said the information was shared as a “courtesy” and that investigators were still trying to verify what was passed on.

CBS North Carolina reached out to one of the attorneys who wrote on social media on Sunday that it was a Sheriff’s Office employee who told him about the potential of a KKK presence.

Scott Holmes wrote on his Twitter page: “Note to Sheriff: When your Major tells me, as I leave court, the Klan is coming, and my clients are getting threats, I will share the info” {.}

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

The Tweet was then re-Tweeted by Durham City Councilmember Charlie Reece.

CBS North Carolina spoke with Scott Holmes, an attorney representing some of those arrested for Monday’s destruction of the Confederate monument outside the Durham County Courthouse.

Scott Holmes said during a phone call that:
“I’m grateful that the Durham County Sheriff’s Office shared information with me as I left court that the white supremacists were coming to Durham.”

“My clients were receiving death threats from white supremacists and were also, at the same time, being raided by sheriff’s deputies. So all the information that I could receive to keep them safe is really welcome.”

“It’s a really difficult situation for the sheriff handling this kind of situation and trying to predict the unpredictable. And it was complicated in a potentially volatile situation, and so I appreciate how he handled it.”

“And as far as I know that the white supremacists did intend to come to Durham and decided not to when they saw the people of Durham were taking to the streets in a remarkable act of solidarity.”

Here is the full statement from Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews:

“We’re aware of the concerns posted on social media; however, our critics were not sitting in the Command Post monitoring and reviewing incoming intel throughout the day, which included rumored Klan sightings with the potential of putting lives at risk. Furthermore, the Sheriff’s Office had a duty and obligation to take precautionary measures, including notifying leaders in the community of the potential of a counter protest to the demonstrators on Monday evening.
Sharing that information with key individuals, including a representative of demonstrators who were staged outside the courthouse Friday morning, was in no way a signal for them to independently sound the alarm ahead of law enforcement, potentially triggering needless panic and anxiety. Our goal was to avoid the possibility of groups with opposing viewpoints violently clashing in the streets of Durham. A tornado watch is not the same as a tornado warning. My Agency was still in the process of verifying the information that was shared as a courtesy and in an abundance of caution with key individuals.
We’re grateful those who gathered in the streets were able to do so safely while law enforcement and other emergency officials worked hard to ensure their safety. Had my Office never said a word and the Klan never arrived, it would’ve been a normal Friday in the Bull City. Had it never given key leaders advanced warning and the Klan arrived, my Agency would’ve been criticized for being silent with prior knowledge, albeit unverified.”

Mike Andrews
Durham County Sheriff

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s