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5 Things To Know: Latta Plantation Cancels Bizarre Juneteenth Event

...and four more stories from June 6-12, 2021

Latta Plantation
The site manager at Latta Plantation commented Saturday on a now-canceled event scheduled for the Juneteenth holiday that was seen as insensitive at best, racist at worst. (Photo by Carol Highsmith)

Latta Plantation Cancels Bizarre Juneteenth Event

Historic Latta Plantation canceled an event on Friday morning after social media followers pointed out that it appeared to be extremely racist. The event, planned for June 19, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of slaves in 1865, appeared to be a reenactment of the end of the Civil War centered on white voices such as the “massa” and the overseer who is “now out of a job.” The event, called Kingdom Coming, also planned for “Confederate soldiers who will be heading home express their feelings about the downfall of the Confederacy.” 

Screenshots of the event sparked outrage on social media and led local leaders to consider shutting off funding for the site, which is located on land owned by Mecklenburg County and run by an independent nonprofit organization. Mecklenburg County government issued a statement saying they were unaware of the event until it made its rounds on social media. “Mecklenburg County has zero tolerance for programs that do not embrace equity and diversity … As a result of this incident, Mecklenburg County is looking at its contract with the facility vendor regarding future programming.” 

The Town of Huntersville, where Latta Plantation is located, also issued a statement regarding the $20,000 requested by the plantation in the town’s coming fiscal year budget. “While we have not fully investigated the facts surrounding this issue, we support statements put out by Mecklenburg County expressing zero tolerance for programs that do not embrace equity and diversity … Funding for the new fiscal year will remain on hold pending further investigations into the facts surrounding this program.” 

On Saturday afternoon, Latta Plantation site manager Ian Campbell issued a long statement that proudly offered no apologies, claiming the event was a “unique educational event” and promising that “the Confederacy will never be glorified, white supremacy will never be glorified, plantation owners, white refugees or overseers will never be glorified. What will be  commemorated is the story of our people who overcame being snatched from their loved ones in Mother Africa and taken to a new and strange land. To work from can see to can’t see from birth to death. The fact that they survived and we are here and continue to thrive and prosper will be glorified.” 

In the statement, Campbell claimed the story had been misrepresented by “yellow journalists” who “had a perfect opportunity to educate, however, they chose to whip the public into a frenzy, it worked,” and said Mayor Vi Lyles, who had issued her own statement about the event, had never come to the site, nor had any “influential or prominent elected officials or “some of those citizens in the community that have been offended.” 

“Your opinions and concerns have been respectfully noted,” Campbell wrote. “However, after reading this, many of you will still be offended, some will be supportive, thank you.” 


CMS Responds to Myers Park Sexual Assault Scandal, Then Deletes

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education Facebook account released a long statement on Thursday in response to reporting by WBTV’s Nick Ochsner about allegations of rape, sexual assault and harassment going virtually ignored at Myers Park High School — then promptly deleted it. 

According to Ochsner’s reporting, which you can read here, former female students at Myers Park High School reported being raped, sexually assaulted and harassed by fellow students at school but virtually nothing was done to address the reports, as Ochsner uncovered through former students’ lawsuits and interviews.

In the short-lived statement posted to Facebook on Thursday, as captured in screenshots by WBT’s Brett Jensen, CMS deflected the allegations and claimed that Ochsner’s reporting “contained numerous misstatements of fact that compel us to correct the record.” The statement claimed that victims in the story were not actually raped, and that one victim who filed a lawsuit against CMS “dropped out of college for reasons unrelated to the Myers Park incident.” 

Following allegations of victim-blaming and all-around insensitivity, the post was taken down. 


Foundation for the Carolinas Surpasses $18 Million Arts Donation Goal

Foundation For The Carolinas (FFTC) announced Thursday that it has exceeded its $18 million private-sector fundraising goal for the local arts thanks to nearly $4 million in commitments from Lowe’s, Honeywell, LendingTree, The Gambrell Foundation, EY, Robinson Bradshaw and Fifth Third Bank. The gifts brought the overall total raised to $20 million.

arts funding
Aisha Dew speaks against the city’s new plan for arts funding at a May 8 press conference. (Photo by Jeff Cravotta)

FFTC’s goal of $18 million was set for three years, to match the $6 million pledged to the arts annually by the city as part of a new plan around arts funding. There is, however, still a strong contingent of creatives in Charlotte who are against the new plan who have created a coalition that demands the city ensure the new plan be made more equitable and accountable in how allocations are made. 

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COVID-19 Rates Continue to Decline

Gov. Cooper announced Thursday that North Carolina will follow Ohio’s lead and implement a vaccination lottery, awarding $1 million to four vaccinated people in an effort to raise vaccination rates across the state. People who have already been vaccinated will be automatically entered once into the drawing, while anyone who receives their first shot sometime between Wednesday and June 23, when the first drawing is scheduled, will be entered twice into the raffle.

Following the June 23 drawing, there will be three more held every other week, with the last one scheduled for Aug. 4. There remains about 45% of the state population who haven’t yet been vaccinated. 

According to the latest data from Mecklenburg County Public Health, released Friday, there had been 113,483 total cases of COVID-19 and 977 deaths related to the coronavirus in the county to that point, an increase of 313 cases and two deaths since the same time last week.

A look at vaccinations in Mecklenburg County by ethnicity. (Courtesy of MCPH)

According to more in-depth data for cases that had occurred through Wednesday, the county had seen a 1.9% test-positivity rate over the previous week, a decreasing trend compared to the previous two weeks, and an average of 50 laboratory confirmed infections per day, a slightly decreasing trend. On average, 67 people were hospitalized on any given day due to COVID-19 over the past week, also a decreasing trend. 

MCPH also reported on Friday that 47% of the total population of Mecklenburg County (516,731 residents; a 1% increase) had been at least partially vaccinated as of Wednesday, while 42% of Mecklenburg County’s total population (464,464 residents, a 1.3% increase) have been fully vaccinated. Of those who have been at least partially vaccinated, just 22% are Black or African American, despite making up 34% of the total county population. 


Week Bookended by Two Killings

There were two murders this week, one on Sunday and another on Saturday morning, which brought the total number of illegal killings in Charlotte this year to 46. 

At around 12:30 a.m. on Sunday, police responded to a shooting call on Ellington Street in southeast Charlotte near the CMC Behavioral Health Center and found 42-year-old Darius Drummer dead of a gunshot wound. 

 

At around 4 a.m. on Saturday, a man was shot multiple times at Mooney’s Lounge on North Graham Street, then drove his car to the nearby Charlotte Fire Department Station 11 on East 28th Street, where he crashed into the garage door. Firefighters at the station treated the victim, who has not yet been named, before he was transported to a hospital by MEDIC. He was later pronounced dead. 


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