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George Floyd Protest Raises Suspicions From Local Organizers

...and other news stories from May 24-30, 2020

A protester jumps on a police vehicle on Beatties Ford Road. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

George Floyd Protests Raise Suspicions From Local Organizers

More than 500 people gathered in front of the CMPD Metro Division office in west Charlotte before marching up and down Beatties Ford Road to protest the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis on Monday, resulting in several arrests and some property damage at the police station and a nearby Food Lion.

Some local organizers raised concerns with the planning of the event, claiming that the protest was held in the Beatties Ford Road corridor purposefully so as to create unrest around the historically Black Lincoln Heights neighborhood and tarnish the Movement for Black Lives. At least one member of the Boogaloo Boys, a right-wing extremist group that promotes violence, was in the crowd on Friday night holding an AK-47. 

Others implied that the event was simply a misguided attempt to support the movement but was coopted by anarchists and others who were there only to start fights. 

“Every time I see something flying at the police, it’s some white boy in the back who threw it. Then the police gas the black people standing up front or arrest one of them,” said one longtime local organizer who told Queen City Nerve he was reluctant to attend the protest because of its suspicious origins. 

George Floyd protests
Protesters face off against police at CMPD’s Metro Division Station on Beatties Ford Road. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

The protest, titled “Justice for George Floyd” on Facebook, was hosted by a group called Justice for Police Brutality – Charlotte. It was later found that the protest was organized by local activists, some of whom have been involved with groups such as Serve the People and Red Guards CLT. Queen City Nerve spoke to one of the event’s organizers in the cover story of our latest issue, out June 3. 

Regardless of the reasons behind the protest to begin with, it drew hundreds of people, some of whom continued confronting police until after 2 a.m. CMPD arrested dozens of people earlier in the evening, including Charlotte city council member Braxton Winston and local ACLU campaign manager Kristie Puckett-Williams. Visit Queen City Nerve’s social media feeds (Facebook and Twitter) for footage from last night’s protests, as well as upcoming coverage of local George Floyd protests planned in the coming days. 

New Stats Show Rises in COVID-19 Metrics

According to the most recent COVID-19 statistics released by Mecklenburg County Public Health (MCPH) on Friday afternoon, things are not going in the direction they should be. Trends in daily cases, deaths, hospitalizations and percent of tests positive have all increased over the past 14 days, according to MCPH, with 3,667 total cases of the novel coronavirus resulting in 89 deaths. 

A look at daily confirmed COVID-19 cases in Mecklenburg County.

“These increasing trends are a clear sign that COVID-19 continues to spread throughout our community. With expanded testing and increased commercial and recreational activity, we anticipated these increases. We will continue to monitor our local data closely,” said MCPH Director Gibbie Harris in a release on Friday. “At this time, our health care systems are stable and not experiencing any shortages of staff, supplies or beds. I am, however, concerned that the lack of adherence to the current guidance on gatherings, physical distancing and wearing cloth face coverings is likely accelerating the spread of this infection in our community. We must all play our part in protecting ourselves and those most vulnerable to this infection by avoiding large gatherings, keeping 6 feet physical distance from others, wearing a cloth face covering, and practicing good hygiene.”

Of the 86 deaths to have occurred through May 27, five people below the age of 60 passed away, and one did not involve any underlying health issues. More than half of the deaths were connected to active outbreaks at long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. Visit the county’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard for more info and graphics.  

RNC Gives Gov. Cooper a Deadline on Convention

Even as COVID-19 numbers begin to creep back up in the Charlotte area, the Republican National Committee continued to pressure Gov. Roy Cooper to guarantee that full attendance will be allowed at the Republican National Convention scheduled for Aug. 24-27 in Charlotte. On Thursday, the RNC sent a letter to Cooper laying out some safety protocols it planned to implement at the convention and setting a June 3 deadline — next Wednesday — for Cooper to commit to hosting the full convention. 

Charlotte skyline
Charlotte awaits 50,000 people expected to arrive with the RNC in August. (Adobe Stock)

“We still do not have solid guidelines from the State and cannot in good faith, ask thousands of visitors to begin paying deposits and making travel plans without knowing the full commitment of the Governor, elected officials and other stakeholders in supporting the Convention,” said RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel in the letter. 

The letter states plans to “aggressively sanitize” and implement pre-travel health surveys through attendees’ health-care providers and daily health-care questionnaires. It does not make any mention of COVID-19 testing or rules regarding masks, both of which come highly recommended from health officials when planning any type of a gathering, let alone that is expected to attract 50,000 people. Most large gatherings have already been canceled for the summer, and while the Democratic National Convention was rescheduled from July to Aug. 17-20, leaders of the Democratic party have voiced skepticism about whether it will be held on those dates or at all. 

New Bill Would Ease Voting Restrictions in Light of Pandemic

Former Charlotte city council member John Autry was one of four N.C. representatives who sponsored a new bill this week that would give voters more options and ease to vote in the November election due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The major provisions included in House Bill 1184 are as follows: 

  • All registered voters will receive absentee ballot request forms from local board of elections. 
  • All absentee ballots will have prepaid postage return envelopes.
  • No witnesses will be required for absentee ballots.
  • 2020 Election Day will be a paid state holiday for state employees.
  • Photo voter ID will not be required for November 2020 election.
  • Absentee ballots will be accepted for tabulation if the ballot is postmarked on or before Election Day and received by the local board of elections up to three days after the general election.
  • Local board of elections shall provide ballot drop boxes. There shall be one ballot drop box in each county for every 25,000 voters at least 15 days prior to the election. 
  • Voters may request curbside voting (drive through voting) for voters who wish to remain in their vehicles.
  • More flexibility in early voting hours.

The new bill was introduced on Tuesday and immediately referred to committee, with N.C. Reps. Marcia Morey, Zach Dawkins and Deb Butler, all Democrats, joining Autry as primary sponsors. 

Man Killed by Woman Following Argument

Nine people were shot in Charlotte last Saturday night, including one incident near Steamers Sports Pub on Albemarle Road in which six people were killed. Though no people were killed in that shootout, which occurred in a parking lot of a closed business park,  one man did pass away in an unrelated incident in which he was allegedly shot by a woman he was arguing with. 

Just after 9 p.m. on Saturday, police responded to a shooting call on Hovis Road in the Thomasboro-Hoskins area of west Charlotte. Responding officers found that the victim, 29-year-old Demario Tillman, had been taken to the hospital by someone else. He died there a short time later. Police quickly signed a warrant on 27-year-old Darryanna Hearn for Tillman’s murder, and she turned herself in on Sunday. Tillman’s murder was the 36th homicide in Charlotte this year. 

Demario Tillman (Photo courtesy Grier Funeral Service)

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