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5 Things to Know: NC Republicans File Senate Bill 49, Targeting LGBTQ+ Youth

...and four more stories from Jan. 29-Feb. 4, 2023

A group of young people stand in a line holding signs with tape over their mouths in front of the Charlotte Mecklenbug Government Center in support of LGBTQ equality
North Carolina State Senate Republicans on Tuesday filed Senate Bill 49, which opponents are calling North Carolina’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Pictured: Members of the local LGBTQ equality organization Campus Pride held a rally in support of a local LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance in December 2016. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

NC Republicans File Bill to Targeting LGBTQ+ Youth

N.C. Senate Republicans on Tuesday filed Senate Bill 49, which opponents are calling North Carolina’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The bill is an updated version of one that failed in the North Carolina General Assembly during the last session. 

Called the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” by its sponsors, the bill would ban any K-4 curriculum from mentioning gender identity, sexual activity or sexuality; require teachers to tell parents if a student uses pronouns that differ from those they were assigned at birth; and make all school literature available for parental review, though it already was.

Equality NC released a statement on Tuesday highlighting the undue burden placed on already overworked and under-resourced educators by Senate Bill 49, as well as the risk the bill would put LGBTQ+ students in by forcing teachers to out them.

“The filing of another ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill by North Carolina’s Senate is a dangerous threat to LGBTQ+ youth that targets educators and students,” wrote ENC Executive Director Kendra R. Johnson. “Erasure from school curriculum and forced outing negatively impacts the health and mental well-being of queer and trans students and results in life-threatening consequences.

“All students deserve to feel safe in the classroom and to have their identities celebrated, not erased. The bill comes in the context of a stream of anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced across the country, with over 124 already introduced as the 2023 legislative session begins. We urge lawmakers to take a stand against this discriminatory legislation, which will cause disproportionate harm to the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Senate Bill 49 quickly passed through the Senate’s Education/Higher Education Committee on Wednesday following a public forum in which a vast majority of speakers opposed the bill. It was then sent to the Senate Committee on Health Care. 


CMPD Releases Footage of Incident Leading to Man’s Death in Custody

CMPD on Thursday released body-cam footage from an incident that occurred on June 12, 2022, in which 32-year-old Javontay Williams died while in police custody following his arrest for allegedly attempting to break into homes in north Charlotte.

The footage shows police arresting Williams while he appears to be making an attempt to enter a home, then handcuffing him. Williams then begins acting erratically as Medic and Charlotte Fire Department arrive on the scene. He repeatedly tells police that he can’t breathe in between other expressions of pain and nonsensical statements.

Williams remains handcuffed while receiving treatment. The original call came from a resident who stated that Williams had fired a gun while trying to break into another nearby home, allegations that CMPD said were corroborated by the discovery of a gun and shell casings at the scene. 

 

According to CMPD, Medic transported Williams to Atrium Health University. He was later moved to Atrium Health Cabarrus for more intensive care, where he died about eight hours after police first responded to the call on Featherstone Drive.

The NC State Bureau of Investigations has already concluded its investigation into Williams’ death and shared those results with the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office, which decided there was no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of police. MEDIC and CFD are currently engaged in their own official Medical Incident Review process regarding Williams’ on-scene care and transport.

Upon release of the footage on Thursday, CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings released a statement saying he was confident that officers acted appropriately during the arrest. 

“Officers went from dealing with a shooting suspect to dealing with someone in a medical emergency and I commend them for being able to transition quickly and manage the suspect as a medical patient in that situation,” Jennings said. “As with any tragedy, the CMPD staff will continue to consistently evaluate our current practices and implement the most advanced training possible to ensure that we are providing the best police services to our community.”


Charlotte DOT to Receive $4.4M for Traffic Safety Projects

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced Wednesday that the Charlotte Department of Transportation will receive $4.4 million to address safety needs at intersections and for pedestrians in the city as part of the federal government’s new Safe Streets and Roads for All grant program. 

The money will be put toward implementing Charlotte’s Vision Zero plan, which Queen City Nerve wrote about back in December 2021. According to a release on Thursday, the money will be put toward projects in three categories. Here’s a breakdown of how the money will be spent by category, according to the city: 

Queen City Nerve’s reporting found that 61 people were killed in vehicle-related incidents in Charlotte last year, including 20 pedestrians. We have tracked seven vehicle-related deaths on city streets this year, including two that occurred this week. 


CCCP Releases State of Center City Report

Charlotte Center City Partners (CCCP) unveiled its latest research and economic development data focused on the Uptown area at its annual State of the Center City event on Thursday, and while the report is mostly just PR used to attract businesses, developers and investors, it does include some interesting bytes of information for context about what’s in store for Uptown in the coming years.

For example, there is more than $6.9 billion of new development in the pipeline for Uptown, according to CCCP, including:

    • 7.2 million square feet of office space
    • 7,700 apartment units
    • 2000+ hotel rooms

James LaBar, senior vice president of economic development at CCCP, stated that the number of visits for people working Uptown and South End has climbed back up to 70% of 2019 levels. If you’re interested in what else the report has to offer, you can read it in its entirety here, including QR codes that allow for readers to receive monthly updates on any number of projects. 


Three More Victims of Gun Violence in Charlotte

Three people were killed in separate incidents around Charlotte this week, bringing the total number of homicides in the city thus far in 2023 to 10, all of which have come as a result of gun violence. 

 

On Sunday, police responded to a call about a body that was found near Choyce Avenue in southwest Charlotte. Responding officers found the body of a victim who appeared to be dead from a gunshot wound. The victim was later identified as 29-year-old Osvin Solis. Officers then responded to a call to assist Medic at Cordelia Park in north Charlotte’s Villa Heights neighborhood shortly after 8 a.m. on Monday and found a person dead from a gunshot wound there as well. No other details are known about that incident at the time of this writing.

At around 11 p.m. on Feb. 1, police responded to a shots fired call on Pineburr Road, at an apartment complex in the Stonehaven area of south Charlotte, where they found 37-year-old Michael White suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Medic pronounced White dead on the scene. 


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