Widow of Julius Sampson speaks during Stand Your Ground law protest

Keyia Sampson, the widow of Julius “Juice” Sampson Jr. calls for justice for her husband who died as a result of senseless gun violence last year.

Widow of Julius Sampson speaks during Stand Your Ground law protest
June 17
15:28 2020

The second straight week of peaceful protests continued on Monday, June 15, as dozens of people gathered at the corner of Cherry and Fifth Streets demanding justice for Julius “Juice” Sampson Jr. and the repeal of the Stand Your Ground law. 

According to the police report, around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, officers with the Winston-Salem Police Department responded to a report of a disturbance at BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, 192 Hanes Mall Circle. Before officers could arrive, the call was upgraded to a report of gunshots being fired and upon arrival, officers found Sampson unresponsive and suffering from an apparent gunshot wound.

Emergency medical personnel responded and later pronounced Sampson dead at the scene. 

The altercation inside the restaurant between Robert Granato, who is white, and Sampson, who is black, began after Granato complained about his drink at the bar and started to insult female bartenders who were working that day. Sampson defended the women and both men left the restaurant, where the argument continued in the parking lot. A short time later, a scuffle broke out, Granato produced a weapon and discharged it, striking Sampson.

Granato was charged with first degree murder and carrying a concealed weapon and is being held in the Forsyth County Jail awaiting trial. Paul James, Granato’s attorney, argues that his client had the right to use deadly force because he feared for his life during the altercation with Sampson. Which is why the rally on Monday called for the repeal of the Stand Your Ground law. The Stand Your Ground law in North Carolina allows one to use force, deadly or otherwise, in self-defense. The self-defense must be within reason when such citizen is at his or her home, vehicle or workplace. A person may also use reasonable force to defend his family or a third-party.

While addressing the dozens of demonstrators, Sampson’s widow, Keyia Sampson, said she was speaking for her husband, other people of color, and young people who lost their lives too soon to injustice and senseless violence. 

“Too many children have been left fatherless and motherless due to living while being black,” she continued. “It stops now! Too many children are sliding through the cracks of a broken system that does not support justice for us all. I’m an educator by trade so my voice is not just for my husband, it is not just for my family, it is for every single young person who I serve on a daily basis.”

As her tears mixed with the light rain that was falling while she addressed the crowd on Monday evening, Sampson said it’s time for change. She said we have to make a change in the way we see things and most importantly the way we treat each other. “Not only in Winston-Salem but in our state, in our country and our White House and in each and every one of our homes,” Sampson said. 

“We need changes in our justice system, we need changes in our sanctioned policies, we need changes in our educational system … But most of all we need changes in our mind and in our heart.”

Before passing the microphone to other speakers during the peaceful demonstration, Sampson led the crowd in prayer. During the short prayer, Sampson prayed that there is a shift in minds and hearts and the courtrooms. 

“God, we ask that justice will prevail and there will be your glory after all of this, in Jesus’ name, Amen.” 

Aside from demanding the repeal of Stand Your Ground laws, speakers from Hate Out of Winston and Black Lives Matter Winston-Salem also made several other demands during the demonstration earlier this week. Other demands included a database tracking egregious police behavior, limited qualified immunity, and reallocation of police funds.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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