Dubious Arrests, Death Threats and Confederate Loyalists

Welcome to Graham, North Carolina.

How a small town became host to a showdown between residents who want to confront its gruesome legacy and the Confederates who claim it to this day. Overseeing it all: a hardline sheriff with a history of restricting protest.

After George Floyd’s death last May, protests brought to light the bloody past of Graham, North Carolina, as people chanted the name of Wyatt Outlaw, the city’s first Black elected official who was lynched by the Ku Klux Klan in 1870.

As the 2020 presidential election approached, protests organized by Black community activists were stymied by law enforcement, who said they were simply doing their jobs. The activists were also targeted by vocal pro-Confederate vigilantes.

Over the past year, dozens of Black Lives Matter activists were sent to jail. Many of the charges were later dropped or dismissed. Reporters from ProPublica Local Reporting Network partner The News & Observer were on the scene.

Reported from a community where protesting is restricted and violence feels imminent, “Sound of Judgment” provides a rare view into the fight for justice in small-town America.