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Advocates Push for Tougher Gun Laws in Weekly News Roundup

Advocates Push for Tougher Gun Laws in North Carolina

Drew Pescaro, a UNC Charlotte student who was shot on April 30 during a mass shooting on campus that took the lives of two of his classmates, joined other students at a press conference in Raleigh on Tuesday that aimed to urge legislators to push through state gun control legislation that they say will help keep more people safe.

As reported by our news partner N.C. Health News, N.C. Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham), a former district court judge, advocated for House Bill 454, which she originally presented in March. The bill would create “extreme-risk protection orders,” (known as ERPOs) a way to temporarily confiscate the firearms of someone whose behavior indicates they are in danger of committing violence.

Drew Pescaro speaks in Raleigh on Wednesday. (Photo by Rose Hoban)

These are the same types of orders recently endorsed by President Donald Trump following a weekend of mass gun violence in Dayton, Ohio; and El Paso, Texas.

“We must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms, and that if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process,” Trump told the nation in an address on Aug. 5.

Another bill currently in the state legislature that advocates supported on Tuesday is House Bill 86, which would enact an array of restrictions on bump stocks and the size of ammunition magazines, as well as implement a three-day waiting period for gun purchases.

Pescaro has gone through three surgeries and was in the hospital for a month following the shooting.

“I’m tired of living my life as the victim,” said Pescaro, who’s originally from Apex. “You know, this wasn’t the life I asked for. I just want action, because people clearly don’t understand how much this affects someone when it happens, but also for the rest of my life. I’m gonna have to live with the scars that I have.”

At one point in the press conference, Pescaro lifted his shirt to show the indentation that marked the point where the bullet entered his body through his back.

“I can’t help but feel as if the deaths of Riley Howell and Reed Parlier at UNC Charlotte weren’t memorable enough to bring this bill to vote three months ago,” he said. “House Bill 86 has been in circulation since February 14, 2019, yet this press conference is being held six months later. Was the shooting at Charlotte not inspiring enough to allow those then?”

City Council Candidate Announces ‘Queen New Deal’ Proposal

At-large Democratic city council candidate Chad Stachowicz unveiled an ambitious new plan on Wednesday that he hopes will help the city get more serious about confronting the affordable housing crisis.

The Queen New Deal, as Stachowicz has called it, would increase the existing affordable housing trust fund bond by $25 million to $75 million every two years, while also replacing the current goal of building 5,000 affordable housing units with a new goal: creating 30,000 new homeowners in Charlotte with a specific focus on communities that were historically denied opportunities due to racism and redlining.

Chad Stochowicz and his family.

“Too many families see home ownership as an impossible goal, but it should be a priority for our city,” Stachowicz said in a press release. “Home ownership is the foundation of the American dream and our economy. Most importantly, building home equity can be an important tool for creating social and racial equity.”

Stachowicz aims to complete the new-homeowner goals by investing in down-payment assistance, increasing access to existing programs and building homes. You can learn more about the details of the Queen New Deal at a website developed by the Stachowicz team.

[Editor’s Note: Queen City Nerve does not endorse Stachowicz or the Queen New Deal, but would like to see more candidates laying out detailed plans in this manner.]

Commissioners Reject Potential ABC Overhaul

In a 7-2 vote on Wednesday night, Mecklenburg County Commissioners adopted a resolution that opposes privatizing liquor sales in North Carolina.

The resolution, which carries no legislative consequence, was written in response to the introduction of House Bill 971 in the state legislature. The bill would replace all ABC stores with private stores and leave the decision over whether to sell liquor on Sundays up to local governments. The bill, however, has little chance of passing.

(Photo courtesy of The Crunkleton)

Commissioners Trevor Fuller and Mark Jerrell voiced concerns that, if passed, the new law would negatively affect underserved communities and people of color, which they said benefit greatly from the revenue currently generated by ABC stores.

The only two commissioners to vote against the resolution were Pat Cotham and Ella Scarborough.

“I think this is, in my opinion, an issue for the church not for us making this decision,” Scarborough said on Wednesday. “We need to stay out of people’s homes. If they want their children to drink, let them drink. It’s their children.”

[Insert shrug emoji here]

Advocacy Group Calls for Adaptations to Brooklyn Village Plans

Equitable Communities CLT, a local organization that advocates for solutions to economic disparity and the affordable housing crisis, sent an open letter to members of Charlotte City Council and the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday laying out potential ways that city leaders can still save some of the history of one of the city’s oldest African-American neighborhoods.

Brooklyn Village, located in Uptown’s Second Ward, was a thriving African-American neighborhood until urban renewal projects displaced much of the population there in the 1960s. In 2016, BK Partners was selected to redevelop the area where Brooklyn Village once stood into a 17-acre mixed-use development.

A rendering of the proposed mixed-use development at Brooklyn Village. (Art courtesy of BK Partners)

While much of the history around Brooklyn Village has long been lost, Equitable Communities CLT co-founder Mary Kelly asked that BK Partners and city leaders take her organization’s suggestions into consideration so that the new development can stand in honor of what was there before.

“The Brooklyn Village deal is well beyond the opportunity to ask for major changes,” the letter stated. “However, it is important to keep the Brooklyn Village history alive and visible to the Charlotte Community, former Brooklyn Residents, their families and for Charlotte visitors. We are seeking your support for the following proposal with BK Builders and you.”

Kelly went on to lay out three suggestions for BK Partners: to allocate space within the development for a Brooklyn Village Museum, to develop a retail-business-rental program for minority- and black-owned businesses, and to design a historical research space for Charlotte’s black community.

She then asked that city leaders allocate tax revenue from the project to go toward seven potential affordable housing causes, “to offset the damage to residents of Brooklyn.” These causes include minority homeownership down-payment assistance, a new program to help seniors fund home-maintenance modifications and therefore stay in their homes, and expanded funding for county rental subsidy programs.

CMPD Updates Yearly Homicide Totals

Four people were killed by gun violence in Charlotte this week, including one man police say was shot while trying to rob a convenience store in north Charlotte on Thursday morning. CMPD also announced earlier this week that two homicides previously reported as murders — the killings of Wallace Scranton on Feb. 14 and Robert McManus on Feb. 15 — were both deemed justified, meaning they will not be counted toward the city’s yearly homicide totals. Under the presumption that Thursday’s gas station shooting will also be considered justified, the 2019 homicide total currently stands at 69.

Antonio Kirkpatrick (Photo courtesy of GunMemorial)

Just before 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 7, police responded to a shooting call at the Stratford Richardson YMCA on West Boulevard and found Antonio Kirkpatrick dead of a gunshot wound. Kirkpatrick had turned 33 in July.

On Thursday, Aug. 8, just before 4 a.m., police responded to a shooting call at a Shell gas station at the corner of Brookshire Boulevard and Lawton Road. Officers found 16-year-old Qwanterrius Stafford suffering from a gunshot wound in the store. He was transported to the hospital, where he later died. A short time later, 17-year-old Brenna Harris turned up with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound on nearby Saratoga Drive.

An investigation later found that Stafford and Harris were attempting to rob the store, when they demanded the wallet of a patron inside. After handing over his wallet, the patron pulled out a concealed firearm of their own and shot both Stafford and Harris. After being treated for his gunshot wounds and released from the hospital, Harris was charged with attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and armed robbery from person.

Later on August 8, at around 8:47 p.m., police responded to a shooting call on Ventura Way Drive in the Hidden Valley area of north Charlotte and found 23-year-old dead of a gunshot wound inside an apartment.

At about 8:39 p.m. on Friday, police responded to a shooting call at the Amity Pointe Apartments in east Charlotte and found 19-year-old Sebastian Acosta-Bayona lying outside of an apartment, dead of a gunshot wound.

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