Is protecting the public from white supremacists with a semi-automatic rifle illegal?
Durham County has agreed to pay anti-white-supremacy activist Dwayne Dixon $3,000 to settle claims that Sheriff Mike Andrews violated his constitutional rights of free expression, free association and the bearing of arms.
In May, Dixon filed a lawsuit asking Andrews to pay $25,000 for improperly revoking Dixon’s concealed carry handgun permit issued a year prior.
Under an agreement that is being finalized, the county will pay Dixon $3,000, County Attorney Lowell Siler confirmed.
The Sheriff’s Office revoked Dixon’s concealed carry permit in August 2017 the day after he was charged with two misdemeanors: going armed to the terror of the people and bringing a weapon to a demonstration.
The charges followed Dixon displaying a rifle at an Aug. 18 demonstration, when hundreds flocked downtown to confront a rumored white supremacist rally that never materialized. The demonstration was four days after individuals pulled down the Confederate memorial that had stood outside the old courthouse on East Main Street.
Dixon is a UNC-Chapel Hill professor and regular participant in protests against white supremacy and the Silent Sam Confederate statue. Dixon is also a member of the Redneck Revolt, a left-wing group that promotes armed community self-defense against white supremacists and fascists.
The day after Dixon’s arrest, a Sheriff’s Office official called him and said his concealed carry permit had been revoked as a result of the criminal charges, according to the lawsuit.
The District Attorney’s office didn’t pursue the going armed to the terror of the people charge. After a February trial, a judge dismissed the bringing a weapon to a downtown demonstration charge, agreeing with Dixon’s attorney that the law was overly broad and infringed upon Dixon’s First and Second Amendments rights to assemble and to bear arms.
After the trial, one of Dixon’s attorneys, Greg Doucette, visited the Sheriff’s Office and was told the permit was revoked but was unable to obtain any related documentation.
In general, revoking a concealed carry permit requires a hearing and a written notice, Doucette said.
The revocation prevented Dixon from carrying a concealed weapon “despite repeated threats of bodily harm made by white supremacists,” including one physical confrontation at UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus, the lawsuit states
The revocation of the permit was “willful and deliberate discretionary act done outside of and beyond the scope of (the Sheriff’s Office) duties, and done in bad faith,” Dixon’s complaint says.
Dixon said in an interview that the Sheriff’s Office targeted him as one of the organizers of events that protest white supremacy and related injustices.
In a statement, the Sheriff’s Office said it reviewed Dixon’s complaint and determined that “staff did not follow the proper procedure.” Dixon’s permit was reinstated May 25.
Afterward, the county’s legal staff began negotiating to settle Dixon’s financial claim, the statement said.
In another Orange County case, a misdemeanor assault charge against Dixon was dismissed earlier this month. The charge stemmed from a confrontation at a UNC-CH rally protesting Confederate memorial Silent Sam.