In today’s episode of Don’t Let Your White Fragility Get Yo’ Ass in Trouble, a North Carolina judge will find himself on the other side of the gavel next month, as he received a summons Friday to appear in criminal court after he was accused of nearly hitting Black Lives Matter protesters with his SUV in downtown Fayetteville earlier this month.
The Washington Post reports that Cumberland County Judge John M. Tyson has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon and will have to go to court in his own county to answer for his alleged crime.
The court summons came after 23-year-old Myah Warren, an activist who was among those participating in a demonstration within the closed portion of the street an SUV is seen driving on in surveillance video, identified Tyson to a Cumberland County magistrate judge as the man who nearly hit her and others.
From the Post:
Warren told The Washington Post on Monday that she believes Tyson was intentionally trying to harm protesters based on his track record as a judge.
“He’s a well-known racist,” she said, referring to a case in which Tyson rejected the notion of race being a factor in the killing of a Black man who was fatally struck by a White man’s shotgun at a 2016 party.
The city released a 12-minute video of the incident Friday, which shows the SUV that Tyson allegedly drove cruising along the downtown area. Almost 10 minutes later, the same vehicle is seen driving in a closed-to-traffic inner lane painted “Black Lives Do Matter.” The vehicle made a quick stop in the lane before getting back in open traffic lanes.
It’s unclear how close the SUV was to Warren or other protesters.
Warren alleges that Tyson drove around the area once in his state-owned vehicle when no one was in his way. The second time, she said, he sped up and tried to hit the group but he ended up jumping the curb.
Imagine being so triggered by the mere words “Black lives do matter” that you feel the need to add to the sentence, “but not to my front bumper they don’t!” I mean, we’ve all likely had to tell a white man to “stay in your lane” before, but not like this.
According to the Fayetteville Observer, a motorist had called 911 before the incident to report protesters blocking traffic in the street and surrounding his car.
From the Observer:
Emergency scanner traffic recorded about the time includes a call for an officer to go to the area near the Market House.
“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 said people in the street at the Market House were blocking traffic, according to an audio of the 911 call released Friday by the police department.
The caller says the people in the street are coming around his car, according to the audio. The dispatcher asks if the caller wants to make contact with police officers when they arrive.
“No, I just need them to come and get the people out of the street,” the caller said. “OK. Thank you.”
The dispatcher asks how many people are involved.
“Probably five or 10,” the caller said.
Tyson told the Observer that he wouldn’t answer questions regarding the allegations against him except to say that he’s relying on the 911 calls to tell the story. Presumably, he’s hoping for a different story from the one told by video footage shared by the Post that shows an SUV appearing to go out of its way to nearly make contact with protesters who were clearly not blocking traffic.
“It’s a bald-faced lie,” Warren told the Post of the 911 call attributed to Tyson. “He needs to be dealt with for making false accusations to 911.”
Warren, who is a Fayetteville-Cumberland Human Relations Commission member, according to the Post, also said that Tyson’s clout as a high profile judge with a lot of pull in the city has prevented attorneys from working with her to take action against Tyson.
“The whole situation sucks because I feel as if he’s going to get away with it,” she told the Post. “You were driving a state vehicle, you tried to hit protesters and you lied to 911. There’s only so much I can do.”