Dear Eric Ginsburg & INDY Week:

While we are glad to see the media paying attention to what’s going on in Graham and Alamance, we are disheartened and frankly angered to see the news outlets we trust and rely on uplifting the narrative of Tom Boney Jr. as a heroic journalist standing up against Alamance County’s criminal justice system.

In Alamance County, you can be white and run down two Black girls with your vehicle, jumping the curb while calling them racial slurs, and get off with a misdemeanor—even when a police officer witnesses the crime and files felony charges. That’s what happened in Graham on December 8, and somehow your paper completely failed to report this unfortunate reality.

The only heroes in the courtroom during that case were Faith Cook and Angela Carpenzano, the two mothers who almost lost their daughters the day Sandrea Warren Brazee attempted to hit them with her truck—not the press, and certainly not Boney.

It’s a shame INDY Week didn’t mention them or the two girls who were targeted in this hate crime even once in its recent open editorial letter addressed to Alamance County. We are writing you to set the record straight and ask that you apologize to Aishah and Gianna and their families and uplift their story.

One of the Graham 12, Cook was among those pepper-sprayed at the October 31 March to the Polls and was herself arrested outside of the Alamance County Detention Center later that day for singing into a megaphone while waiting for fellow organizers to be released. Her charge: Class 1 Misdemeanor Riot, just one degree less than the A1 Misdemeanor Assault with a Deadly Weapon Brazee received. Her daughter continues to have nightmares following the attack: “It’s kinda sad that I have to be a 12-year-old scared to walk on the sidewalk just because of the color of my skin tone,” Aishah wrote in her Victim Impact Statement.

The primary question we should all be concerned with is: Why did the criminal court system drop Brazee’s charge from a felony to a misdemeanor? We should all be questioning the Alamance County District Attorney in this case; why did they think it was acceptable to interview two minors without their parents’ consent? Why did they value the testimony of a neighbor who was inside his house during the incident over the witness of the police officer who saw the whole thing and filed the felony charges? If you aren’t looking at how race factored into the outcome of this case, you’re not doing your due diligence as a journalist.

Painting Boney as an honorable reporter who simply “wanted to do his job” is laughable at best and a slap in the face to the actual victims in this court case at worst. Boney—publisher of The Alamance News (a job he inherited from his father) and a former employee of the notoriously racist North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms—has been covering news about activists demonstrating in Graham with a profound and obvious slant; simply describing it as “conservative coverage,” as INDY Week did in its piece, doesn’t come close; The Alamance News is a tabloid, the locals’ National Inquirer. As far back as 1990, the Greensboro News and Record reported that the newspaper’s “policies of identifying crime suspects by race and withholding reporters’ names on major investigative stories go against the grain of accepted journalistic practices.”

Simply “doing his job,” Boney regularly publishes the mug shots and home addresses of activist arrestees—even publishing photos of their homes. He cherry-picks information and reports back to the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office, allowing known racist sheriff Terry Johnson to define a counter-narrative that demonizes public demonstrations and people who wish to bring change to the systemic racism that plagues Graham. Boney has even gone so far as to equate the Black Lives Matter movement with the KKK and defend Graham’s Confederate monument in his paper.

Despite the onslaught of First Amendment rights violations that have been ongoing in Alamance since this summer, it wasn’t until Boney himself felt personally attacked that he chose to use his newspaper to report on it; he didn’t even post pictures of Tomas Murawski—a reporter from his own paper who was arrested during the October 31 March to the Polls—until he was firing back at the court about being kicked out.

Part of Graham’s serious and ongoing systemic racism problem is the “good ol’ boys club,” with Sheriff Johnson as its president. Friends of Terry, including Boney, get VIP access and treatment. We have seen people violently thrown down to the ground while being arrested for acts as innocuous as attending and speaking at a county commissioner’s meeting, and yet Boney gets a nice escort and a pat on the back from law enforcement as his handcuffs are removed right outside of the courthouse.

Graham is tired of this good-ol’-boy network. The BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized communities want the same respect and compassion that white conservatives enjoy in Graham. We are tired of trumped-up charges when we use our First Amendment rights. We are tired of Alamance News getting special access and treatment. We are tired of standing in the shadow of a Confederate monument— erected by white supremacists in 1914, in the same location where our first elected black constable, Wyatt Outlaw, was lynched by the KKK in 1870.

As long as a white-haired white man can continue to use his newspaper to constantly smear racial justice work in his community and be praised by news outlets as the hero and victim in a court case where a white woman walks away with a misdemeanor for trying to hit two Black girls with her vehicle, then the change we need to see in Graham will remain elusive.


Forward Motion Alamance

Faith Cook

Revolutionary Love Coalition

People for Change

Alamance Agents for Change

Down Home NC: Alamance

Comment on this story at

Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.