Durham police in riot gear face off with demonstrators

Updated: Aug. 18, 2017 at 6:58 PM EDT
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Alex Giles/WBTV
Alex Giles/WBTV
Alex Giles/WBTV
Alex Giles/WBTV

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) - Anti-hate protesters who flooded downtown Durham just after 12 p.m. Friday regrouped a few hours later and moved to the county detention center.

About 6 p.m., police took to the street in riot gear. A line of officers moved demonstrators back until about 6:30 p.m. when the main group of police backed away.

One person has been arrested and charged with failure to disperse, Durham police confirmed.

Rumors about a white supremacist rally taking place at noon began to swirl Friday morning on social media.

Durham City council member Jillian Johnson retweeted a message by Scott Holmes saying a rally would take place downtown.

Holmes is the attorney for the activists arrested for destroying the Confederate monument in front of the old Durham Courthouse on Monday.

Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews released a statement before noon saying his deputies were looking into the rumors.

Because of concerns surrounding the potential for a white supremacist rally, Durham County closed four downtown buildings. The YMCA's Downtown Durham and American Tobacco YMCA branches also closed Friday.

Just afternoon, hundreds of anti-hate protesters flooded downtown while holding signs and chanting.

In the middle of the rally, Johnson also tweeted unverified information about armed white supremacists being downtown.

By 2:30 p.m., most demonstrators had left downtown and streets reopened around 3:30 p.m.

Friday's events come as the last four of the eight protesters arrested in connection with destroying a Confederate momentum appeared in court.

Holmes said his clients have been receiving death threats since the monument was toppled Monday.

"By phone, by social media, by email, it also appears that folks are calling in false charges against them to police who then have to investigate. So there's a variety of ways in which they are already being harassed," Holmes said.

The City of Durham tweeted around 1 p.m. that no permits had been issued to any groups. The sheriff said it's a three-week process to obtain a permit.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said in a statement to CBS North Carolina that he supports the protests.

"People are peacefully protesting in support of equality and justice. Like them, I believe that racism and white supremacy are wrong. We have more work to do to live up to the ideal of equality, and I join those who are committed to making this ideal a reality for all Americans," he said.

About 2:40 p.m., The Durham County Sheriff issued another statement:

"The Durham County Sheriff's Office has not received verified information confirming a counter protest will occur in Durham at 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. this evening. I want to continue urging residents to rely upon verified information to avoid circulating rumors that can put lives at risk."