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5 Things To Know: Lawsuit Demands Homeless Encampment Be Shut Down

and four more stories from July 26-Aug. 1, 2020

Lawsuit demands that homeless encampment in Uptown area be dismantled

A landlord who owns property near a homeless encampment on the outskirts of Uptown has filed a lawsuit demanding that tenants be forced out and seeking damages from property owners who have allowed the encampment to remain there since March. 

In April, we wrote a feature story about life at the encampment, which has since become known as Tent City, and the growing needs of the homeless community in Charlotte. Last week, rumors spread throughout the camp that property owners had asked the tenants to leave the properties where they have been staying around the area of North College and East 12th streets. After first confirming that property owners had ordered the area cleared by today, Aug. 1, CMPD then stated that, as of Monday, the property owners “will currently refrain from asking occupants that have assembled tents on their respective properties to vacate the locations.” 

homeless encampment
The encampment that began outside of Urban Ministry Center is now often called Tent City. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

The lawsuit claims that defendants have “permitted and in fact encouraged” the creation of Tent City, resulting in making the plaintiff’s property inaccessible and being continually filled with trash, debris and human waste. The encampment began outside of the Urban Ministry Center in March, as other service organizations began to shut down and more homeless neighbors flocked to the area.  

The plaintiff states that he has a potential buyer for his property, but the buyer has significant concerns about going through with the purchase due to the existence of the homeless encampment and the “ongoing damage and trespass to the property.” The lawsuit asks that a judge order the dismantling of Tent City. On Monday, CMPD told Queen City Nerve that the department “will not initiate any enforcement action regarding the removal assistance of homeless tent encampments on private property, unless a property owner generates a trespassing complaint.” 

[Correction: An original version of this story stated that Men’s Shelter of Charlotte was listed as a defendant in the lawsuit. The defendant, MSC College Street II, LLC, is not related to the Men’s Shelter, Urban Ministry Center or Roof Above.]

CMS Switches to Plan C To Start the School Year

At an emergency meeting on Thursday, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) Board of Education voted unanimously to change its reopening plan, citing new data and staff shortages as the reasons to switch to a fully virtual start to the school year. The original plan, voted on in July, called for two weeks of in-class orientation, during which students would rotate in and out so as to not fill the schools up all at once, followed by virtual learning up until it is deemed safe for kids to return to school. 

According to CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston, the school system is facing 50 custodial vacancies, more than 80 bus driver vacancies, more than 40 nurse vacancies and 70 teacher vacancies.

According to the latest info from Mecklenburg County Public Health (MCPH), released Friday afternoon, there have been 20,239 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among county residents, resulting in 202 deaths. That’s an increase of 1,838 cases since the same time last week, with 15 more deaths. Overall, the county has seen an increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 and a slight decrease in the percentage of positive tests. See more in-depth COVID-19 data from MCPH here

Trump Planning To Accept Nomination in Charlotte

Vice President Mike Pence stated during a trip to Charlotte this week that President Donald Trump is planning to accept the Republican nomination for re-election here in Charlotte. The announcement came after the Republican National Committee had to cancel the main part of the convention, which was originally planned for Charlotte then moved to Jacksonville before being axed altogether last week. It’s unclear at this point what sort of event Trump plans to hold in Charlotte when the time comes later this month. 

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

The business aspect of the convention, which includes more than 300 Republican delegates coming to town, is still scheduled for Aug. 24 in Charlotte. Gov. Roy Cooper has remained steadfast in stating that Trump and the Republican National Committee will have to stick to the guidelines set in place by state government to curb the spread of COVID-19. North Carolina is currently in Phase 2 of its reopening plan, which prohibits gatherings of 10 or more people indoors or 25 people outdoors. These mass-gathering limits include parades, fairs, festivals, auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, conference rooms and meeting halls. Cooper is expected to make his next announcement regarding the reopening plan next week, as his latest extension of Phase 2 is set to expire on Aug. 7. 

Adams Tear-Gas Amendment Adopted by the House

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday adopted an amendment introduced by U.S. Rep. Alma Adams (NC-12) to prohibit law enforcement from using federal funds to acquire chemical agents for domestic riot control, making it a part of H.R. 7617, an appropriations bill commonly known as a “Minibus.”

use of tear gas
Protesters in Uptown deal with tear gas on May 30. (Photo by Joshua Galloway)

“Since the tragic death of George Floyd, millions of Americans have sought to exercise their First Amendment rights to protest and assemble,” said Adams. “Too often, these actions have been met by the brute force of the state, as the elderly, as children, as those with medical conditions choke and asphyxiate due to the use of so-called ‘riot control agents.’ We can no longer condone the use of agents that hundreds of public health professionals say can help spread respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19. The use of such agents is banned by international law — so why would we use them against our own people?”

Previously, Adams introduced the Right to PROTEST Act, another measure to restrict the use of chemical agents like tear gas by local law enforcement. 

Charlotte Surpasses 71 Murders in 2020

Another five murders occurred in Charlotte since our last Weekly News Roundup, putting the total number of homicides in the city this year at 71. On Saturday, July 25, 63-year-old Wilma Jean Petty was killed after being caught in the crossfire of a shootout while picking up her 11-year-old granddaughter from a birthday party on West 28th Street in the Dillehay Courts area of north Charlotte. No arrests have yet been made in this case. 

Wilma Jean Petty

At around 4 a.m. on Sunday, police responded to an assault call on Montego Drive in east Charlotte and found 23-year-old Jaquis Lowery dead from stab wounds. Police later arrested and charged 21-year-old Chakyra Robinson with first-degree murder. 

Jaquis Lowery (center)

Just before 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, police responded to a shooting call on Westwinds Court in the Coulwood area of northwest Charlotte and found 22-year-old Keontez Stephens laying in the street with a gunshot wound. He was transported to the hospital by MEDIC, but later died. No arrests have yet been made in this case. 

Keontez Stephens

Just after 4 p.m. on Wednesday, police responded to a shooting call on Nevin Road in the Derita area of north Charlotte and found 22-year-old Andre Boyd dead from multiple gunshot wounds in the common area of an apartment complex. No arrests have been made in the case. 

At 11:18 a.m. this morning, CMPD announced on Twitter that another homicide had occurred on the 7000 block of South Tryon Street. No other details are available at this time. 

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