Hundreds of counter protesters have gathered on East Main Street in downtown Durham, bracing for a march by white supremacist groups.
“No KKK!” they shouted. “No Fascists USA.”
The Sheriff’s Office has closed East Main Street in front of the old courthouse. Many downtown businesses are closing, county and other offices have closed.
Some protesters announced the Klan, which had been rumored to be marching at noon, was now planning to march at 4 p.m.
But local government leaders could not confirm the rumors, widely circulated on social media, including by the attorney for the eight protesters arrested in the toppling of a Confederate statue on Main Street Monday night.
“At this time, law enforcement continues to monitor the area and have not confirmed reports of activity,” Sherff Mike Andrews said. “We are urging the public to avoid circulating rumors on social media and instead wait for verified information from officials monitoring the situation.”
City Manager Tom Bonfield said despite what some protesters were saying, no group had obtained a permit to march in Durham, a process that can take three weeks.
Durham attorney T. Greg Doucette was at the Durham County Courthouse at 9:30 a.m. when he said deputies informed the judge that the courthouse was closing.
“The judge pulled us aside and recalendared our case for another day,” Doucette said.
He then left the courthouse after speaking with Durham assistant district attorney Clayton Jones.
Scratch Baker Manager Thurmond Buckelew said they made the decision to close because of “growing anxieties.” A representative of the nearby Suntrust Bank came in to the restaurant and said the bank also would be closing early, he said.
“We just wanted to be home and not be in the middle of it,” Buckelew said.
Suntrust Bank officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
Eight people have been charged in Durham this week after a Monday protest tore down a Confederate statue in downtown Durham. The protest was a response to last weekend’s violence at a white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia.
This is a developing story. Come back for updates.