Mayor responds to escalating protests with state of emergency, curfew

Published 5:49 pm Tuesday, June 2, 2020

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Mayor Karen Alexander on Tuesday declared a state of emergency for downtown Salisbury and implemented a curfew following days of protests.

The curfew, effective immediately and in place until further notice, will begin at 9 p.m. and last until 5 a.m.

The curfew specifically applies to the Downtown Municipal Services District, which includes areas of North Jackson Street, East Cemetery Street, West Horah Street and North Long Street. Included in the district are parts of South Main Street, West Horah Street, South Church Street, East Kerr Street, East Council Street and North Lee Street.

Alexander implemented the declaration and curfew “due to escalating behavior by individuals related to the protests.” Alexander said the action follows issues with “outside elements,” referring to people not part of the community escalating organized peaceful protests.

Protests on Monday escalated after some individuals believed Jeffrey Long was among the crowd. Long was arrested on Sunday after firing two shots into the air from a handgun. Police in riot gear used tear gas to disperse the crowd Monday night, and police said a man mistaken for Long was not him.

“We always respect the right for groups to peacefully protest in our city,” Alexander said, “and we must provide that opportunity to all residents, even if you don’t appreciate the message. Over the past few nights, our police department has done an excellent job allowing freedom of speech and expression, but the incidents on Sunday and Monday by the counter-protestor and protestors were truly disappointing. We cannot tolerate unlawful behavior in our city by outsiders or our residents.”

Travel within the Downtown Municipal Services District is restricted, except for anyone seeking medical assistance or other services necessary to “sustain the well-being of the person or of a member of the person’s family or household.”

The curfew doesn’t apply to law enforcement officials, firefighters, public employees conducting job duties, health care workers, on-duty military personnel, on-duty employees of public or private utilities, public transportation companies, media and package delivery companies.

Alexander said the curfew only affects downtown businesses.

Anyone who violates the curfew can face a class 2 misdemeanor.

Discussion to implement the state of emergency and curfew occurred among community leaders and Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes.