News & OpinionWeekly News Roundup

5 Things To Know: Anti-Riot Bill Could Become State Law

...and four more stories from Feb. 5-11, 2023

use of tear gas, protest response policy, anti-riot bill
An anti-riot bill passed through the house on Wednesday and is now in the Senate. Pictured: Protesters in Uptown deal with tear gas on May 30. (Photo by Joshua Galloway)

Anti-Riot Bill Has Votes to Override Veto

House Bill 40, also known as North Carolina’s anti-riot bill, passed through the N.C. House on Wednesday in a 75-43 vote that was split mostly along party lines, though the six Democrats who support the bill also give it a super majority, meaning that with their continued support the House will be able to override a veto from Gov. Roy Cooper.

If passed, the bill increases felony penalties for certain existing offenses related to “rioting,” allowing prosecutors more leeway to lock up and financially punish folks participating in protests based on police accounts. The law, which was passed through the NCGA as House Bill 805 but vetoed by Gov. Cooper in 2021, was drawn up by House Speaker Tim Moore in response to protests that occurred in Charlotte and elsewhere during the summer of 2020 in response to the police murder of George Floyd.

Civil rights groups have long stood against the anti-riot bill, stating it will be used to stack charges against protesters and inhibit free speech. 

“This bill would stifle free speech and discourage protests by imposing extremely harsh criminal penalties on people charged with ‘rioting,” tweeted the ACLU of North Carolina in a statement on Tuesday. 

Organizers with the South Atlantic chapter of Planned Parenthood Votes! joined others on Wednesday in protesting House Bill 40 in Raleigh.

“From women’s suffrage & Civil Rights to marches for police accountability, our American legacy of mass protest and civic action is fundamental to who we are as a nation,” the organization tweeted.  “We must #ProtectProtest as a hallmark of a thriving, well-functioning democracy.” 


CMPD Makes Arrest in 40-Year-Old Murder Case

CMPD officials held a press conference on Thursday to announce an arrest in the case of a gruesome double murder that occurred nearly 40 years ago.

Police stated that, thanks to years of extensive forensic testing and evidence examination, the CMPD Crime Lab and Cold Case Unit identified 60-year-old James Pratt as the main suspect in the murders of 27-year-old Sarah Mobley Hall and her 10-year-old son, Derrick Mobley, both of whom were found murdered in their home on Ventura Way on March 14, 1984.

Officers arrested Pratt without incident at a hotel in York County, South Carolina, on Wednesday and have already extradited him back to Mecklenburg County, where he is in custody, charged with both murders.

CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings noted that he and Mecklenburg Sheriff Garry McFadden worked on the case together during their time as homicide detectives with CMPD.

“There are some cases that you never forget, and this was no exception as it was one of the most horrific crime scenes I’ve ever seen,” Jennings wrote in a statement. “I can’t even describe the relief I felt when I learned that we had found a DNA match and arrested a suspect. After 39 years, justice was finally served.”


Ashley Park Teacher Suspended After Video Goes Viral

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has confirmed that the teacher seen shoving a student into his chair and pushing the chair across the floor of a classroom in a recent viral video has been suspended with pay. 

The video shows the teacher grab the 11-year-old boy by the shoulders and force him down into his chair while telling him to “Sit the fuck down.” She then accuses him of trying to start a fight with a girl in the room, asking him, “Is that what your family does? The men in your family put their hands on women? Your dad beat your mom?”

Queen City Nerve reached out to CMS on Friday to inquire whether the district is investigating the incident further or if the teacher could face more serious consequences moving forward. A spokesperson responded with the following statement: “We have been made aware of this incident and the employee is currently suspended with pay. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools remains committed to ensuring a safe and caring environment for each and every student.” 


Atrium Health Releases Gun Violence Report

Atrium Health unveiled a new white paper titled “A Public Health Approach to Addressing Gun Violence” on Wednesday, reviewing the short- and long-term effects of gun violence on the physical and mental health of patients, physicians and caregivers, as well as the financial impact on both patients and health systems. 

The Charlotte-based health-care system also tracked the increase of patients treated for gunshot wounds in their hospitals, located in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Their data shows the number of gunshot patients increasing every year since 2017. 

gun violence in Charlotte
Sevhn Doggette, founder of Mommies Matter 2 Kyyri, holds her son’s ashes as she makes a tearful plea to stop gun violence during a Mega Mommy March in January 2021. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

The report shows the following:

  • In North Carolina, the rate of firearm injury hospitalizations has exceeded the national average every year since 2000, according to RAND.
  • In July 2022, CMPD reported that firearm assaults have risen in the city by 25% over five years, and they are particularly concerned about high rates of gun violence among juveniles. In the first six months of 2022 alone, an estimated 118 juveniles in the city were suspects in gun crimes, while 482 children were victims.
  • In the year ending September 2022, there were 20 mass shootings in North Carolina, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, which defines mass shootings as any assault in which there are four or more injuries or deaths, not including those of the perpetrator. Two of the mass shootings occurred in Charlotte.

“Many people think gang violence is the problem in Charlotte, but that’s not what we are seeing at our trauma center,” said Dr. David Jacobs, director of Atrium Health’s hospital-based violence intervention program. “What we’re seeing is that someone steps on someone else’s foot at a party or pushes them on the basketball court and then guns are being used to settle arguments.”


Man Stabbed to Death in West Charlotte

A 50-year-old man was stabbed to death in west Charlotte on Wednesday, becoming the 11th homicide victim this year in Charlotte. 

 

At around 3:42 a.m. on Feb. 8, police responded to an assault call on Willard Street in the Thomasboro-Hoskins neighborhood, where they found 50-year-old Michael Workman Jr. suffering from an apparent stab wound. Medic transported Workman to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.  


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