Sheriff’s Office Clears Out Jail Support
Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) deputies arrested 43 people on Thursday, June 18, for refusing to leave a jail support site set up in front of the Mecklenburg County Detention Center and remove all supplies from the area.
Earlier on Thursday, Sheriff Gary McFadden approached members of the jail support team, who have been providing resources like food, water, clothing, and medical supplies to those leaving the jail, protesters, and other members of the community in need since the start of the George Floyd demonstrations. He told organizers they had until 2 p.m., about four hours, to remove everything from the jail support site, saying sheriff’s deputies could assist in moving out anything still remaining by 2 p.m.
McFadden cited three reasons for the request for removal, claiming people had blocked the bus lane in front of the support tables, members of the homeless community had slept at the site, and officers had been harassed. Organizers planned a sit-in for 2 p.m. and put out a call asking for community members to come to jail support and help them.
Dozens of sheriff’s deputies arrived just before the deadline, lining up opposite the activists, who at times challenged them and started chants of, “Hell no, we won’t go,” and “No justice, no peace!”
“We have decided that our services are in fact essential, just as you believe yours are,” Glo Merriweather informed the phalanx of sheriff’s deputies marching towards organizers as they arrived in force.
When challenged by attorneys with the local public defender’s office to name the law that organizers were breaking, MCSO Chief Deputy Sheriff Rodney Collins said they had been “disorderly.” When one of the attorneys asked which part of the disorderly statue he was citing, Collins said he was “not going to debate issues of law.”
At around 2:15 p.m., multiple orders to disperse were issued, warning that anyone who remained was subject to arrest. Just 15 minutes or so later, deputies began taking organizers to the ground and making arrests, pushing media and onlookers back and threatening anyone who got “too close” with arrest as well. The attorneys challenging the dispersal order were among the dozens arrested.
Those left behind were given the chance to break down and taxi out supplies using their own vehicles, notably without any assistance from deputies. The jail support has now moved to the sidewalk across the street.
“Jail support provides so much for people. It’s a welcome home party, letting them know their lives matter,” said Kristie Puckett-Williams, of the ACLU of North Carolina. “I wish there could have been more communication so it didn’t have to lead to this. I wish that we could have had some type of conversation so that we could have figured out how to sustain this and keep it going.”
Sheriff McFadden released a statement that read, “I am deeply disturbed because I support the cause of reentry into the community as it is a part of my Mission and Vision for my agency. What I cannot support is an unsafe and disruptive environment for those conducting business at MCSO facilities. I now look forward to continuing positive dialogue with members of the community as we move past this unfortunate incident.”
SBI Releases Report on June 2 Kettling Incident
The State Bureau of Investigations released a report stating its findings in reviewing an incident that occurred on June 2 in which CMPD officers trapped protesters on East 4th Street between South Tryon and South College streets, then fired on them from above with pepper balls. The report cites the use of camera footage from Queen City Nerve’s Facebook livestream and multiple surveillance cameras in Uptown, though it states that no body-worn camera footage was available from the incident because Civil Emergency Units cannot mount them on their uniforms.
The report claims that protesters had multiple avenues of escape, so they were not technically trapped, though it admits that tear gas was seen covering all of these escapes. It also claims that one officer fired five or six pepper balls from above and only at the wall, though pictures taken by Queen City Nerve show at least 20 markings left on the wall, and live-stream footage shows a man who appeared to have been shot in the face with a pepper ball.
Judge Orders 10-Day Ban on Tear Gas, Other Riot Control Agents
The ACLU of North Carolina, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Emancipate NC, along with several Charlotte-based attorneys, filed a lawsuit on behalf of Charlotte Uprising, NAACP, Team TruBlue, Southeast Asian Coalition (SEAC), the ACLU of North Carolina, and four Charlotte residents against the City of Charlotte and Charlotte Mecklenburg Chief of Police for perpetrating violent attacks against peaceful protesters. [Full disclosure: Queen City Nerve publisher Justin LaFrancois, who caught the incident on tape, is one of the residents listed as a plaintiff, though Queen City Nerve as a company is not involved with the lawsuit.]
The lawsuit asserts that, during the above-mentioned incident on June 2, CMPD orchestrated a premeditated and violent attack on peaceful demonstrators, trapping them with a maneuver called “kettling” and assaulting them with rubber bullets, tear gas and flashbang grenades.
A North Carolina Superior Court judge granted a temporary restraining order forcing the City of Charlotte to halt the use of force against peaceful demonstrators for 10 days.
“We’re gratified by today’s ruling but make no mistake: the violence displayed by Charlotte police was not an anomaly, it was an example of the racism and brutality inherent in American policing,” said Kristie Puckett-Williams, statewide Campaign for Smart Justice manager. “Before one more Black life is lost, and before more peaceful demonstrators are brutalized — it is time to divest from the broken institution of policing and invest in the well-being of our communities.”
A CMPD statement released on Friday read, “This afternoon, Superior Court Judge Eady-Williams granted a temporary restraining order that limits the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s ability to deploy riot control agents to disperse crowds assembled during unlawful gatherings. Many of the restrictions referenced in the order are currently prohibited under CMPD policy. The order does however prevent the department from deploying riot control agents in gatherings that involve protesters who are damaging the property of others.”[Update: On Saturday evening, Judge Eady-Williams clarified that the order does not, in fact, prevent CMPD from deploying riot control agents in the event that protesters are damaging property.]
Local Advocate Groups Respond to DACA Ruling
The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday to uphold the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in a 5-4 ruling that said the Trump administration’s reasoning for ending the program was “capricious and arbitrary.” In the decision for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote: “We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies. We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.”
Chief Justice Roberts added that the administration could try again if it provided adequate reasons for shutting down the program.
A group of local immigrant advocacy organizations including Latin American Coalition, Action NC and the Hispanic Federation released a joint statement that read:
“Today’s decision is a testament to what happens when directly impacted communities demand change. The Supreme Court sided with the American people— who overwhelmingly support the DACA program— and rejected the decision to deport immigrants who are American in every sense except by law. This decision protects the lives of nearly 700,000 current DACA recipients, including more than 24,000 in North Carolina, and their families from deportation — for now.
“This decision affirms what we have always known: immigrants make America great. It comes as our country continues to struggle under COVID-19. During this time, DACA recipients and immigrants broadly have played critical roles in supporting our health systems and economy. Currently, 29 percent of all physicians, 38 percent of home health aides and 23 percent of retail- store pharmacists are foreign-born. Immigrants also make up a large proportion of essential staff in grocery stores, hospitals, sanitation and transportation. According to the Department of Homeland Security, nearly one-third of DACA recipients work in these essential jobs.
“With this decision, DACA recipients and their families can continue to live safely in our community. Nearly 250,000 children in this country have a parent with DACA status.
“Since the Trump administration rescinded the program in 2017, immigrant youth, their families and allies across the country have been fighting to protect DACA. While this decision gives needed relief for DACA recipients and their families, immigration and deportation threats are far from over. Charlotte immigration advocacy groups including the Latin American Coalition, Hispanic Federation, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, Comunidad Colectiva, and Action NC call on the Trump administration to respect the decision of the Supreme Court and not try to end the program again. The administration must also instruct U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) not to share information that DACA recipients and their families have voluntarily given to the government with ICE.”
Three Homicides Bring Yearly Total to 43
This week, police announced the murders of three people in separate incidents, some of which took place on the previous week. Police announced on Monday that on Saturday, June 13, 24-year-old Brian Quiros succumbed to injuries sustained during a fight on Commonwealth Avenue near East Independence Boulevard in east Charlotte on June 9. Police have arrested 26-year-old Omar Almanza De La Garza, 25-year-old Jordan Robertson and 27-year-old Jahdell Lewis, charging all three with murder, common law robbery and conspiracy to commit common law robbery.
Police also announced on Monday that 27-year-old Ray McLean III died in the hospital on Friday, June 12, after being found shot in his car on Monroe Road near Sharon Memorial Park and Cemetery early that morning. No arrests have been made.
Detectives have made an arrest in the murder of 28-year-old Tierra Watson, stabbed to death on Tuesday in an apartment on Taurus Drive in east Charlotte. Police found 28-year-old Anthony Garcia in the apartment, and later arrested and charged him with Watson’s murder. Records show Garcia had a long criminal history including domestic violence. One of Watson’s friends has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for end-of-life expenses.