'As Long As The People Want': Protests In Charlotte Enter Third Week

Jun 16, 2020
Originally published on June 16, 2020 3:39 pm

Demonstrations against systemic racism and police brutality are now in their third week in Charlotte. On Monday evening, about 75 protesters gathered at uptown's First Ward Park just before a light rain began to fall.

A brief march through the center city was on the agenda, but first: dinner. Members of the local Sikh community fed protesters, bringing some stew, rice and beans and other dishes.

Pawanjit Singh with the Sikh Coalition said the group brought dinner to share because "we believe in equality."

"Justice and equality is our cornerstone, and we do support universal betterment and justice for people who are oppressed and minority groups," Singh said.

Monday's protest, organized by Million Youth March of Charlotte & Salisbury, was smaller than many in previous nights. But organizer Mario Black said demonstrations will keep going "as long as the people want it go on."

"Next we're going to channel some of this energy on the state level," Black said, mentioning the group would be reaching out to elected officials. "We can do it locally, but we want things done and locked in on the state level as well."

One of the attendees Monday was Vivian Carr. Her 26-year-old son, Justin Carr, was shot and killed in front of the Omni Hotel in uptown during the 2016 protests over the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott that shook the city. On Monday, Carr said she wanted to see change.

"That's why my son was out here – fighting for equality and justice," Carr said. "I just want to come out here and continue the fight that he was fighting."

Local protests began 16 days ago. In Charlotte and many cities across the U.S., people started taking to the streets after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd, a black man, died after a white officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd's death sparked furor, but his name is hardly the only one being chanted by protesters in recent weeks.

And as marchers left the park Monday, Wilfred Nagbe led chants as he talked about Rayshard Brooks, the 27-year-old black man who was shot and killed by Atlanta police Friday night. Brooks was killed after police found him asleep in his car at a Wendy's drive-thru. Brooks was shot in the back after taking what appeared to be a Taser from an officer as he was being arrested, running away and pointing the Taser backward.

"Now we need to add one more thing to the list of what could get you killed by police: sleeping in your car at the fast-food drive-thru," Nagbe said.

The protesters marched a loop around uptown and made a few stops, including at the new Black Lives Matter mural on South Tryon Street. The crowd stopped at another place, too: the Omni Hotel, where protesters knelt and chanted Justin Carr's name.

Vivian Carr knelt, too.

"I want to thank you guys for honoring my son," she said. "He was out here fighting for the same thing y'all been fighting for."

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday night's #blacklivesmatter march in #CLT included this scene outside the Omni Hotel. Joining the march was Vivian Carr (left), the mother of #JustinCarr, the protester who was fatally shot by another protester right here during a 2016 protest after the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott. She wept when everyone knelt and chanted her son's name, led by Mario Black of Million Youth March. "I want to thank you guys for honoring my son. He was out here fighting for the same thing y'all been fighting for, equality and justice. So I had to come out. I had to continue to fight," she said. It was a touching moment that connected this year's protests with those in 2016. More on @wfae and WFAE.org (link in bio) #georgefloyd

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