ReOpen NC leader leaves group, suggests others nearly incited a riot

Facebook group pushing for NC businesses to reopen has tens of thousands of members.
Facebook group pushing for NC businesses to reopen has tens of thousands of members.(Source: Facebook #ReopenNC)
Updated: Apr. 29, 2020 at 4:05 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — One of the leaders of the ReOpen NC group said in a Facebook post that she’s left the movement.

Kristen Elizabeth wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday about how she thinks the movement has taken a turn that “we were not in agreement with”.

Elizabeth cited another leader in the group, Ashley Smith, as acting on her own and “nearly inciting a riot.”

“I have said from the beginning, we are a peaceful action group and I have carried myself that way and protected our group with every fiber of my being,” Elizabeth said in the post.

Elizabeth said she was told that if she didn’t like the way the movement was headed, she needed to leave.

“We have a very different understanding to what ‘civil disobedience’ calls for. I was told this is the way it is and if I don’t like it I need to go,” Elizabeth wrote.

I just left the #ReopenNC movement. Added at 1:34pm- This movement has taken a turn that we were not in agreement with....

Posted by Kristen Elizabeth on Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Four people were arrested at a Tuesday protest by the group, including Ashley Smith.

According to arrest warrants, Wendy Macasieb and Lisa Todd were arrested during the protest on charges of resisting arrest and violation of an executive order.

Jonathan Warren II was also charged with resisting arrest and violation of an executive order, as well as damage to property.

In a statement, Smith called the arrests a “bold move.” She said ReOpen NC had worked peacefully with the Raleigh Police Department and Capitol Police prior to her arrest.

“Our protests will continue. Our civil disobedience will accelerate. Our faith in the police has diminished. We will open North Carolina,” Smith said in a statement.

According to arrest warrants Smith, Todd, Macasieb, and Warren violated Executive Order 121 by attending a mass gathering and not maintaining social distancing when asked.

Warrants for Smith, Todd and Macasieb also say they did not comply when asked not to come on to state property by a police officer.

According to State Capitol Police, a protester violently pulled on part of the northeast gate of the Executive Mansion, breaking it.

State Capitol Police said that prompted officers to ask the crowd to back away from the fence and sidewalk to maintain social distancing, keeping officers safe, and preventing further damage.

“While protests can be subject to restrictions on time, place and manner, they are held as a fundamental right under the Constitution. State Capitol Police respects the constitutional right to peaceably assemble,” a State Capitol Police spokesperson said in a statement.

This was the third Tuesday people have gathered to protest the stay-at-home order in North Carolina.

These have been heated protests with lots of emotions. Some of those in attendance were business owners impacted by the stay-at-home order and others who have come to the protests were health professionals on the front lines of the pandemic who wanted to make it known that protesters need to stay home.

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