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Wake County activist arrested hours after testifying at virtual Raleigh city council meeting

A Wake County activist and participant in recent Raleigh protests against police misconduct was arrested early this morning on charges of failing to return a rental car and damage to the vehicle, hours after speaking at a Raleigh City Council meeting set up specifically to listen to community concerns.

Conrad James, the president of a Raleigh-based “millennial think tank” called Living Ultra-Violet, told council members at the meeting that he would be delivering a class-action lawsuit to the City Council for violating the Geneva Convention and committing war crimes for using tear gas against peaceful protesters.

The meeting began at 7 p.m. and lasted almost three hours, with multiple community members calling to defund the police and for Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin and Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown to resign, among other demands. James spoke at around 8:45 p.m., a little under two hours after the meeting began.

According to a Facebook post by James, law enforcement officers came to his home in the southern Wake County community of Willow Spring around 3 a.m., arrested him, and set his court date for 9 a.m.

One of James’ Facebook friends offered this description of the arrest:

“Last night, my friend Conrad James called in to the City of Raleigh livestream and revealed to them that he was working on a class action lawsuit on behalf of Raleigh citizens against the RPD.

At 0300 this morning, they raided his house, refused to show a warrant, and arrested him. His court appearance was then set a mere six hours later at 0900, making it difficult for anyone to get there to help/support him.”

Wake County arrest records indicate that it was Wake County Sheriff’s officers who took James into custody and that the event took place at 2:15 a.m. This is the notation on Raleigh/Wake City-County Bureau of Identification (CCBI) website:

“JAMES,CONRAD PAUL I
Arr. Agency: WAKE COUNTY SHERIFF
DOA: 06-05-2020 02:15:00
CHARGE: FAIL RETURN HIRED MV >$4000″
And this is from an email from Susan Weis, Communications Director for the Town of Fuquay-Varina sent in response to an inquiry from Policy Watch:

“Public Record:

Time/Date Reported:  5/21/2020 @ 1553 hours
Incident/Offense:  Failure to Return Motor Vehicle – Felony
Location:  2908 N. Main St.
Victim: Enterprise – 2908 N. Main St.
Suspect: Conrad Paul James, age 27 of Willow Spring, NC
The branch manager of Enterprise reported that a rental vehicle, a 2020 gray Nissan Versa, was not returned by 4/21/2020 as rented to the suspect, Conrad Paul James.  The vehicle was rented on 4/14/2020.  The manager reported that he had made multiple attempts to contact with Mr. James and mailed a letter to Mr. James to return the vehicle.  It was reported that Mr. James stated he had lost the keys in Alabama and could not return the vehicle.  The manager reported the incident to the police department requesting an investigation to to pursue criminal charges.   Pursuant to an investigation, a warrant was obtained for Conrad James for Felony Failure to Return Motor Vehicle. The vehicle was located in Cary and the branch manager requested additional charges for damage to the vehicle.  Pursuant to the investigation, an additional warrant was obtained for misdemeanor injury to personal property.
The warrants were served by the Wake County Sheriff’s Office last night.”

James reported on Facebook today that:

“They dropped the motor vehicle charge at the first appearance thing today it is now just misdeamenor (sic) 1 injury to personal property”

The email from Fuquay-Varina does not mention why the Wake County Sheriff’s Office waited two weeks after the complaint from Enterprise was filed on May 21 to arrest James or why officers chose to carry out the warrant in the middle of the night.

James is now out on bond. His next court date is set for June 25.

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