Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin has instituted an 11 pm curfew tonight ahead of a planned anti-corruption protest. 

“The decision is among the most difficult I have had to make as Mayor,” Baldwin said in a press statement Saturday morning. “My goal is to create space for those who want to exercise their constitutional right of freedom of speech and assembly, while still ensuring that the residents and businesses of our community remain safe and unharmed.”

The protest is planned to begin at 3 pm downtown and is being organized by a coalition of local social justice groups, including Emancipate NC and Raleigh Demands Justice. Organizers have said there intent is to be peaceful, but also believe if there is property damage, it will be the city and police who are to blame. 

Earlier this week, a group of mostly white protesters damaged about 40 businesses in downtown Durham, prompting Mayor Steve Schewel to denounce the group as “co-opting” the racial justice movement. On Saturday, Baldwin said the curfew was issued to ensure public safety while giving demonstrators, “ample time for a peaceful protest to occur.” 

‘As we, unfortunately, experienced earlier this year (and as Durham experienced a few days ago), there are those that want to use this opportunity to cause destruction and incite violence,” Baldwin said. “Destroying small businesses and vandalizing property is not the answer. This will not be tolerated and has no place in our society.”

Baldwin acknowledged the need for continued protests fueled by the call to justice for Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. The Raleigh City Council “is committed to that change….if we agree to share our views, experiences, and differences in a peaceful and thoughtful way, and offer solutions for future action.”

The curfew will lift at 5 a.m. Sunday morning. Downtown streets including Fayetteville, Hargett, Morgan, and Salisbury Streets will also be closed to through traffic for the weekend. 

Follow Raleigh News Editor Leigh Tauss on Twitter or send an email to ltauss@indyweek.com

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