Executive Order Will Increase Early Voting Sites in Charlotte
A new emergency order from the state elections director will mean more early voting sites in Charlotte come November, as officials begin preparing for a socially distanced election. The order requires at least one early voting site per 20,000 registered voters in a given area, though county boards of election can apply to waive those exact requirements if they feel they can serve voters with fewer locations without causing long lines.
The order also mandates that voters and volunteers wear face masks, and calls for frequent cleaning, barriers, social distancing and backup plans if sites must close due to outbreaks. It also allows for extended hours at early voting sites.
Some Republicans quickly called foul, as they’re wont to do when voting access is expanded, with N.C. Sen. Ralph Hise pointing out that voters in urban areas like Charlotte will see more new early voting sites than ones in rural areas. House Rules Chairman David Lewis, however, was a more open-minded Republican in regards to the order.
“There are many admirable things about this order, such as the standards of cleaning and other methods of ensuring that in-person voting is both safe and accessible,” Lewis said in a statement. “I appreciate that the early voting hours must be uniform, so that no partisan games are played with the voting sites.”
Lewis did express concern over the costs of the order and asked that federal funds recently set aside by the state legislature be used to reimburse counties for expenses. Read Rhiannon Fionn’s latest Suffragist column for more on voter registration and how to apply for an absentee ballot. Stay tuned to the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections website for info on early voting sites in Charlotte as it becomes available.
CMS Board Votes For Schools To Remain Remote
Following a meeting that surpassed five hours on Wednesday night, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education voted on a plan that they hope will allow schools to reopen safely next month. The plan allows students to attend their schools in groups for a few days at a time and then sends them home to continue remote learning until it is deemed safe to return for in-class instruction.
According to the plan, each student will be placed in one of three groups, with each group attending school for three to four days in an attempt to get them acquainted with their teachers and prepare them for remote learning. By Aug. 31, all students will go remote. Parents have the option to implement a fully remote option if they do not want their children attending the orientation period.
Board member Sean Strain logged the only vote against the plan, while Rhonda Cheek abstained.
According to the most recent data released by the Mecklenburg County Public Health department on Friday, there have been 16,193 cases of COVID-19 reported among Mecklenburg County residents thus far, an increase of more than 2,400 cases since the same time last week. There were also 12 deaths in the past week, putting the total at 175.
Over the past two weeks, the amount of people hospitalized on any given day due to COVID-19 (around 178 on average) and the percentage of people testing positive out of tests as a whole (around 11.3%) have both remained stable. On Tuesday, Gov. Cooper announced that the state will remain under Phase 2 of his reopening plan for at least another three weeks.
Activists React After Man Dies in Mecklenburg County Detention Center
The State Bureau of Investigations is investigating after a man died in his cell in the Mecklenburg County Detention Center on Sunday morning. Michael “Danny” Mangan, 51, had been brought to the jail on the previous Friday and was in a five-day quarantine holding cell, as has been protocol during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2018, the jail made headlines after five inmates died there in five months, though that was under Irwin Carmichael, predecessor to current Sheriff Garry McFadden.
“We never want to lose someone on our watch and the loss of Mr. Mangan is no exception,” McFadden said in a statement. “Above all else Mr. Mangan is a human being that lost his life. I take the loss of life personally and I humbly ask that people wait for all the facts to be revealed before rushing to conclusions or making unfounded assertions.”
Later Sunday night, activists poured red paint across the doors at the detention center and cut down parts of a banner that McFadden’s deputies had hung in front of the jail that read, “Here Black Lives Matter.” On Thursday, more than 50 people rallied in front of the jail to hold a vigil for Mangan while showing support to the inmates still inside.
Family Home Made Unlivable After SWAT Raid Comes Up Empty
A family has been forced out of their east Charlotte home after a SWAT team did significant structural damage while serving warrants on 19-year-old Trey McClendon, who was not there at the time. Police came looking for McClendon on July 11 to serve multiple felony warrants, including for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.
The family told officers McClendon was not there and gave them the keys to the home, but officers claimed that McClendon’s violent past made it unsafe for them to enter the home safely. They deployed pepper spray and flashbang grenades into the house, doing extensive damage, then entered to find that he was not at the house.
A statement from the Freedmen Law Group on behalf of the London family that lives in the home states that McClendon does not live there. CMPD later confirmed that McClendon was only an “acquaintance” of the London family, though they pointed out that he was arrested at the home in January, at which time police seized around 13 ounces of marijuana, three guns and $3,500 in cash.
“The resulting circumstances following the operation are regrettable as the CMPD always strives to balance public safety while protecting personal property,” read a statement from CMPD. The department offered to provide alternative living accommodations for the family, which they declined. McClendon was arrested without incident on Rockmoor Ridge Road on Friday.
Community Reels as Charlotte Sees Six Homicides in a Week
The community is left looking for answers after six people, half of whom were teens, have been killed since our last News Roundup. Charlotte has seen 61 homicides this year, putting us on pace to surpass last year’s grisly total.
Just after 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, police responded to a shooting call at a BP gas station on East W.T. Harris Boulevard and found 52-year-old Allen Smith suffering from a gunshot wound in a car. First responders administered CPR, but Smith was pronounced dead on the scene. On Tuesday, police arrested 25-year-old Jonathan Best-Edmonds and charged him for Smith’s murder.
Around 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, police responded to a shooting call in the Sugaw Creek area of north Charlotte and found 17-year-old Cory McKinney suffering from a gunshot wound in the front yard of a residence on Cushman Street. He was transported to the hospital, where he died a short time later. Police believe the shooting took place at the intersection of Cushman Street and Ridgedale Circle, and the victim ran to the yard where he was found. On Thursday, police arrested 21-year-old Raheem Lowery and charged him with the murder of McKinney.
Later that afternoon, police responded to a shooting call on Margie Dale Drive in University City and found 21-year-old Delvin Teah shot dead in a vehicle that had struck a tree in the parking lot of the Robinsdale Apartments. No arrests have been made for Teah’s killing. His family and friends have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help with expenses.
Just before 2 a.m. on Monday, police responded to a shooting call in the Southside Homes apartment complex in South End and upon arrival were told that friends had already driven gunshot victim Vontairius Doster, 16, to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. No arrests have been made for his murder.
On Thursday, at 5:24 p.m., police responded to a shooting call on Ashley Road and found 14-year-old Ferrell Bradley dead of a gunshot wound in the parking lot of the Murphy USA convenience store. Later that day, police arrested 29-year-old Jamall Hallman and 26-year-old Swade Patterson and charged them both with murder.
Later that night, at around 11:30 p.m., a person called 911 and stated that they saw someone in their yard and heard gunshots. Responding officers found 23-year-old Andrew McCullough lying in the yard with multiple gunshot wounds. MEDIC transported him to the hospital, where he later died.[UPDATE: A man was shot and killed on Balsam Fir Drive in east Charlotte at 6 a.m. this morning. Homicide detectives have not yet released the name of the victim. His murder was not included in the above-mentioned statistics.]