CMS Apologizes For Sign at High School Football Game
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools issued an apology on behalf of Butler High School this week after parents of Charlotte Catholic High School students were offended by a sign Butler’s cheerleaders held up before a game on Friday, Oct. 15. The large banner read, “*SNIFF SNIFF* YOU SMELL THAT? $ PRIVILEGE $” implying that students at Charlotte Catholic, a private school, are well off.
After Charlotte Catholic parents spoke to multiple media outlets about their concerns with the sign, CMS spokesperson Vicki Grooms issued a statement on Monday that read, “CMS is aware of an insensitive banner displayed by the Butler HS cheerleading squad prior to the school’s football game versus Charlotte Catholic last Friday. Squad members and adults responsible for oversight will face consequences as a result of that banner display. School and district officials will offer no specific information about this disciplinary matter. [Butler] Principal [Vincent] Golden and Learning Community Superintendent Tangela Williams have spoken with leaders from Charlotte Catholic to offer verbal apologies. Butler High School cheerleaders have sent an apology letter to counterparts at Charlotte Catholic. Soon there will be a meeting between the schools’ cheerleading squads to facilitate goodwill and understanding.”
It is unclear what further consequences Butler staff or students will face. In the meantime, Charlotte Catholic Principal Kurt Telford issued his own statement that read, “We appreciate the outreach we’ve received from the Butler High School community and are confident our good relationship with them will continue. We understand how emotions surrounding sports events can sometimes result in actions that do not represent an organization’s values. It is our hope that everyone will learn from such moments because at the end of the day we are all one community.”
Redistricting Committee Recommends New Map
During a meeting on Wednesday, the city of Charlotte’s Ad Hoc Redistricting Committee voted unanimously to recommend draft map B1 for Charlotte City Council to consider at its Nov. 8 meeting. Wednesday’s meeting came after Monday night’s public forum, at which most of the speakers called on council not to allow mapmakers to move the Hidden Valley neighborhood from District 1 to District 4.
The recommended map moves 16 precincts, including the two that make up Hidden Valley. The affected precincts are located primarily along district borders. The recommended map ensures the area along Central Avenue and near the former Eastland Mall site remains an intact community of interest, meaning people with similar demographics and socioeconomic statuses are kept in the same district.
The concern of many Hidden Valley residents is that they will no longer be in a district with neighborhoods that share common interests. The historically Black neighborhood would move from a district that is 43.9% Black, according to 2020 Census data, to a district that is 26.3% Black.
“What would be the advantage or the value of moving into District 1?” asked longtime Hidden Valley resident Lola Gardner on Monday, skeptically. “Are services going to improve? Will they help the community have more walking areas or grocery stores?”
Council member Malcolm Graham, who chairs the Redistricting Committee, ensured those in attendance on Monday that nothing nefarious was afoot. He added that the move could make it easier for a community leader from Hidden Valley to win the District 1 seat, as incumbent Larken Egleston is vacating that seat to run at large next year.
“We had to move 40,000 voters out of Districts 2, 3, and 4, and many of them look like me and you,” Graham said, speaking directly to the Hidden Valley residents who had addressed council. “No matter what we do, District 2, District 3, and District 4 are poised to elect African-American leadership. A smart candidate in District 1, with the open seat there, who has the ability to form coalitions can win. That’s the political side.”
COVID-19 Stats Fall, Mask Mandate Milestone Not Reached
COVID-19 stats continue to fall in nearly all metrics, though the test-positivity rate that would allow for a relaxing of the current mask mandate is has not quite been reached. County health officials have stated that they’d like to see the test-positivity rate fall below 5% for 30 days before removing the mask mandate that was put back into effect in July. As of Wednesday, Mecklenburg County’s average test-positivity rate was 7.3%. According to the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services, however, the statewide test-positivity rate reached 5% on Tuesday and as of Wednesday was down to 4.4%.
According to the latest data released by Mecklenburg County Public Health on Friday, there were 1,286 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed among Mecklenburg County residents over the past week and 13 deaths resulting from the coronavirus, making 1,245 total deaths throughout the pandemic.
According to more in-depth data for cases that occurred through Wednesday, there had been an average of 187 confirmed COVID-19 cases per day over the past week, and on average, 230 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19 on any given day, both decreasing trends. Wednesday’s 7.3% test-positivity rate among county residents was also a decrease from the rate of 8.2% reported a week prior.
According to that same data, 61% of Mecklenburg County residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 57% are fully vaccinated.
Slow employment growth persists in new labor data
According to new numbers released by the North Carolina Justice Center on Friday, it would appear that issues such as the Delta variant, lack of affordable child care, and transportation continue to be the biggest barriers to economic recovery, as opposed to unemployment insurance, as had been claimed by many.
In the month after federal supplementary unemployment insurance benefits expired on Sept. 4, businesses added fewer than 4,000 jobs, one of the lowest monthly growth figures since the start of COVID-19. The number of people actively looking for work in North Carolina fell in September by roughly 5,000, the smallest decline since this time last year.
While the combined number of people working and looking for work inched up in the past month, North Carolina labor force participation remains more than 80,000 people below pre-pandemic levels. Roughly 28,000 more North Carolinians reported looking for work in September than before the COVID-19 outbreak.
"If conservative claims that unemployment insurance was keeping people from working were right, September should have seen a wave of people returning to the labor market. What we got instead was a trickle,” said Patrick McHugh, research manager with the NC Budget & Tax Center, in a release on Friday. “We should always be cautious about reading too much into one month of data, but in the first month since federal supplementary benefits expired, job growth was meager and the smallest number of people left the ranks of the unemployed since the start of COVID-19.”
A Deadly Week in Charlotte
Three Sunday murders kicked off a bloody week that saw six killings recorded in Charlotte this week, making a total of 86 illegal killings in the city this year. Homicide investigators in the Hickory Grove Division signed murder warrants against a man after the body of 30-year-old LaPorscha Baldwin was found in Fairfield County, SC, on Oct. 14. She had been reported missing in Gastonia on Oct. 10, though she was last seen in Mecklenburg County, which is where her suspected killer has been brought to face charges after having been arrested in Myrtle Beach, SC, on Oct. 16.
Around 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 17, police responded to an assist MEDIC call on Aulton Link Court in north Charlotte and found 42-year-old Damian Oliver dead of a gunshot wound. Shortly after 11 a.m. on the same day, police responded to a death investigation call on Wynbrook Way in north Charlotte's Tanglewood community, where they found 29-year-old Terrell "Rell" McCreary dead from apparent trauma. Police found 21-year-old Tahajie Howard dead of a gunshot wound inside a truck that crashed on South Mint Street at Romare Bearden Park shortly after 7:45 p.m. that evening. Further investigation found that the shooting occurred on Remount Road near West Boulevard.
Just before 12:45 p.m. on Oct. 20, police responded to a shooting call on Spring Street in north Charlotte and found 40-year-old Eileen Rosado dead of a gunshot wound. Rosado was just seven days from her 41st birthday. Just after 10 p.m. on Oct. 21, police responded to a shooting call on South Caldwell Street in the South End neighborhood and found 46-year-old Keith Griffin dead of a gunshot wound. Police quickly arrested a 52-year-old man and charged him with murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
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