Thursday, 04 June 2020 15:08

Rockingham Police charge woman with inciting to riot, seek charges against teen

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ROCKINGHAM — Police have filed charges against one individual and are seeking charges against another in connection with protests at Richmond Plaza on Sunday.


The Rockingham Police Department took out warrants for 21-year-old Jasmine Sky Batton, of Rockingham, charging her with felony inciting to riot and misdemeanor resisting a public officer.

Batton was arrested Thursday and booked into the Richmond County Jail around 2:45 p.m. No bond amount has yet been listed.

Batton has no current pending charges or previous criminal convictions in North Carolina, state records show.

The department is also seeking juvenile petitions against a teen for two felonies: inciting to riot and assault on a government employee with a deadly weapon.

The juvenile is accused of pulling a knife on Detective Lt. George Gillenwater but dropped it when commanded to do so, Gillenwater said.

The incident was caught on a cellphone camera and broadcast live on social media.

Gillenwater said these were the only two outliers in “what we considered a mostly peaceful protest.”

Hundreds of protesters had gathered at the plaza Sunday afternoon following a march down East Broad Avenue in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who was held down by officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, until he lost consciousness.

Floyd, who was born in Fayetteville, was being detained on suspicion of passing counterfeit currency.

Four officers involved in the incident were fired and have been charged.

Derek Chauvin, who held his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, has been charged was initially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, but prosecutors later charged him with second-degree murder.

The other three officers — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — have also been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

One of the organizers told the RO the protest was to rally the community “and let our voice be heard…Not only is about police brutality, it’s about racism, it’s about social injustices that we face every day.”

Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons — who released a statement condemning the officers' actions in Minneapolis — went to talk to the crowd.

“They thought that you would make things better,” one protester told Clemmons. “You gotta make difference, brother, that’s why they put you there.”

“We have bad in everything,” Clemmons replied, “bad school teachers, bad doctors, bad lawyers, bad judges, bad law enforcement officers. And we have to do what we have to do to weed those bad officers out.

Another man, standing behind Clemmons said, “The system is corrupt. No matter who you put in the system, it’s gonna be corrupt.”

Clemmons, with Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly standing behind him, continued to listen and explain his position to the crowd.

“I’m working every day to make sure the job is being done,” he said. “If those officers are doing corruption, I call in the SBI to get rid of them … that’s what we have to do.”

The conversation continued for several minutes, with some protesters shouting the sheriff down.

“Listen, what can we do to work together as a group,” Clemmons asked, to which someone nearby replied, “Nothing.”

It was then the crowd started chanting, “F--k the police!”

Clemmons and Kelly left the crowd and returned to the sidewalk.

The crowd remained in the center of the parking lot in front of Save-A-Lot for about 20 minutes before moving toward the side with Roses and Rue 21.

There was a mention of moving over to Lowe’s and several minutes later someone yelled out, “Walmart!”

Some of those who had gathered zoomed out of the parking lot.

Sirens blared and lights flashed as deputies from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office drove down U.S. 74 Business toward Walmart.

Within minutes, the Rockingham Police Department quickly left the shopping center heading back toward downtown as deputies pulled in to guard the stores in the plaza.

Kenneth Robinette, chairman of the Richmond County Board of Commissioners and chief operating officer of C.F. Smith Property Group, which owns the plaza, stood on the sidewalk near the future Planet Fitness, watching from afar.

Robinette said none of the storefronts were damaged.

Later in the evening one Rockingham store was damaged when someone threw a brick through the front door of CVS Pharmacy, according to Gillenwater.

That incident is still under investigation.

All defendants facing criminal charges are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law.