North Carolina: Judge Charged with Assault for Attempting to Run Over Black Activists

By Noah Long

North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge John Tyson has been charged with “assault with a deadly weapon” for driving his vehicle towards a group of protesters and nearly running them over in Fayetteville earlier this month. The charges against Tyson were filed by activist Myah Warren, who says she was nearly hit in the incident.

After calling 911 to report the protest, which occurred on May 7, Judge Tyson circled the protesters menacingly with the state-owned vehicle he was driving at the time. A video of the incident shows Tyson driving past activists marching over a “Black Lives Do Matter” street mural which, had been closed to traffic for almost a year.

Tyson is seen in the video accelerating toward the protesters, forcing Warren and other protesters out of the way. After this, Tyson drives up onto a nearby curb to further intimidate the group of activists.

Judge Tyson’s attempt to run over protesters aligns with a pattern of reactionary behavior exhibited over his judicial career. Last year, Tyson fought against removing several Confederate statues in North Carolina, citing the bible as a defense.

In 2019, Tyson overruled a life sentence for Chad Copley, a white man who murdered an unarmed young Black man, claiming that the prosecuting attorney unnecessarily injected race into the proceedings. Copley was recorded telling a 911 dispatcher he was going to secure his neighborhood from a “bunch of hoodlums” and that he was “locked and loaded.”

Reactionaries have increasingly turned to vehicular assault and murder as a response to protests against police violence in the US. Recently, laws were passed in Florida and Oklahoma that grant immunity to drivers who run over protesters if drivers claim they were in fear for their lives. A similar law is currently making its way through the North Carolina legislature. These laws extend to civilian reactionaries similar legal justifications used by the police when carrying out racist murders of Black people.

Judge Tyson is not only a government official empowered to enforce such bourgeois laws that target the people and prosecute those fighting for Black lives, but a dangerous reactionary targeting the people in the streets.

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