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‘Be a Man and Own Up’: North Carolina Judge Accused of Trying to Hit Black Lives Matter Protesters with SUV Told 911 Dispatcher Another Story

A North Carolina judge has been charged with misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon after he was accused of trying to hit Black Lives Matter activists with his vehicle earlier this month, the Fayetteville Observer reported

Myahtaeyarra Warren swore before a Cumberland County magistrate that Appeals Court Judge John Tyson almost hit her and other protesters with his SUV in downtown Fayetteville, near Market House on Friday, May 7. The 23-year-old was not hit or injured. Mario Benavente, who was also protesting, supported Warren’s claim saying he saw two others almost get hit.

Judge John Tyson (Credit: Judgejohntyson.com/Video Screenshot)

In her complaint, Warren wrote, “I was at the market house protesting at 6:31 pm. A white SUV with a #4 plate attempted to hit me. I was standing inside the paint, which is not a traffic lane.” Warren, who is also a business owner, stated that due to the nature of her profession, she routinely comes in contact with public figures and lawyers, and that’s how she was able to identify Tyson. While talking to WRAL of Raleigh, Warren stated that what the judge did “was not OK” and that she would like Tyson to “be a man and own up.”

In a footage released by law enforcement, an SUV was spotted driving around a traffic circle past a group of protesters. The car then moved into the innermost lane of the circle, once again driving past where the activists had been standing. The inner road is painted with bright yellow words that read, “Black Lives Do Matter. End Racism Now.” According to local law enforcement officials, that lane is not open for traffic.

When questioned about the allegation, Tyson told Fayetteville Observer that he had called 911 during that time, insinuated that the call would paint a different picture. According to documents from the Fayetteville Police Department, around the time the incident was said to have taken place, a dispatcher received a call about “reckless activity.” “Caller advises there are subjects in the roadway blocking traffic,” the dispatcher said. “I think it was possibly going to be five to 10 subjects.” The caller later stated that the people in the street were coming near his car. When asked if he wanted to get in contact with police officers when they arrive, he said, “No, I just need them to come and get the people out of the street.”

Tyson, who had served as a judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals for nearly 14 years, was later summoned. Court documents stated that Tyson “unlawfully and willfully did assault Myahtaeyarra Warren with a deadly weapon, a white SUV … by driving [his] vehicle at a high rate of speed and attempting to hit her in the body.”

Court records also showed that following an investigation, Magistrate C.L. McMillan found enough evidence to support the charges against the judge. In a statement directed at Tyson, McMillan wrote, “I, the undersigned, find that there is probable cause to believe that on or about the date of the offense, the defendant drove at a high rate of speed attempting to hit Myahtaeyarra Warren with a deadly weapon, a white SUV.” Judge Tyson is due back in court on June 21, according to the criminal summons signed by McMillan.

The news comes as more and more states have been implementing bills that virtually protect drivers who injure or kill people participating in protests. The Orlando Sentinel reported that Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed an “anti-riot” bill last month that gives civil legal immunity to civilians who run their vehicles through protesters blocking a road. The law, which creates new felony categories of protest-related crimes such as “mob intimidation” and makes activities such as blocking a highway a felony, has garnered criticism from Democrats and civil rights groups. Many say it is unconstitutional and infringes on the First Amendment right to protest peacefully.

In a statement to the outlet, Democratic state Sen. Shevrin Jones, who is Black, said that the new law “undermines every Floridian’s constitutional rights, and it is disgusting that the GOP would rather empower vigilantes and silence voices than listen to the majority of Floridians who oppose this dangerous bill.” He added, “The governor’s spectacle is a distraction that will only further disenfranchise Black and brown communities.”

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