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5 Things to Know: GreenFaith Charlotte, Climate Orgs Rally in Uptown

...and four more stories from Oct. 16-22, 2022

A group of people with GreenFaith Charlotte and other organizations sit around in a half-circle on a city sidewalk while some stand behind them. They hold signs reading "Fossil fuels desecrate creation" and "Killing the Earth is against our religion" and similar slogans.
Activists with GreenFaith Charlotte and other organizations held a peaceful protest in Center City on Friday. (Photo by Tyson Gifford)

Faith Groups, Climate Organizations Rally in Uptown

Members of GreenFaith Charlotte, Sustain Charlotte, Trees Charlotte joined with a diverse range of faith groups in Uptown on Friday to protest a widespread lack of action on climate change through vigils, chants, songs, prayers and petitions. 

Banners reading “Faiths 4 Climate” stood next to the metal disc statue on the corner of Trade and Tryon streets outside of Bank of America’s (BofA) headquarters. The bank’s continued funding of fossil fuel infrastructure was at the center of Friday’s protest, as activists urged BofA leadership to transition investments to clean, renewable energy.

Amy Brooks Paradise of GreenFaith pointed out that this transition should prioritize low-income communities and communities of color, which are most impacted by the climate crisis.

“People who have contributed the least to the problem in terms of carbon emissions are the ones who are most directly impacted first and hardest,” Paradise said Friday. 

Friday’s rally in Uptown was part of a global series of events organized by GreenFaith, a global, multi-faith alliance. While activists protested other investment companies such as Wells Fargo, BlackRock and Vanguard here in the United States, other actions took place in locations as wide-ranging as France, Ghana, Indonesia, Germany and Nigeria.

GreenFaith protests centered around a range of localized issues, ranging from a youth bike ride leading to pray-ins at coal-fired power plant sites in Indonesia to collaborative action against the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline in Tanzania and Uganda. 

Amy Brooks Paradise with GreenFaith Charlotte speaks into a microphone while kneeling on a city sidewalk
Amy Brooks Paradise with GreenFaith Charlotte speaks at Friday’s protest. (Photo by Tyson Gifford)

Paradise said the idea behind Friday’s Faiths 4 Climate events was to engage people around the world to start taking action in their communities for climate justice. The event was the fourth and final installment of Fun Fridays, put on by GreenFaith. The organization hopes to continue its efforts with a weekly gathering called Earth Witness Wednesdays.

“This is an opportunity for us to bring the message forward and to also speak directly to the larger players on the national and international stage who have the power to make decisions to change that,” Paradise said.

Details Released Following Hornets Guard’s Arrest

More details have surfaced regarding the Sunday morning DUI arrest of Charlotte Hornets guard James Bouknight. CMPD released a police report from the incident on Wednesday stating that officers responded to a call about a man unconscious in the driver’s side of his vehicle, which was running and reportedly blocking traffic in a parking garage near The Francis apartments in Uptown.

Responding officers found 22-year-old Bouknight passed out in his locked car with a handgun in his lap. They tried to wake him up for about an hour using lights, airhorns and a PA system. When he finally did wake up, he reportedly appeared confused and refused to comply with demands to park and exit the vehicle, first eating food then attempting to drive out of the situation, striking into police cars that were parked in front of and behind him.

Bouknight had been issued at least four other speeding and reckless driving charges in the last year before Sunday’s incident. 

Bouknight was drafted 11th in the 2021 NBA Draft but did not get much playing time in his first season with the Hornets. He played 10 minutes in the team’s season opener on Wednesday, just hours after the police report was released, and went scoreless on three shots from the field. 

County Leaders Solicit Feedback on Opioid Settlement Funds

Mecklenburg County leaders will host a meeting next week to seek input from residents on the most effective ways to spend more than $32 million the county will receive over the next 18 years to find solutions to the opioid epidemic in our community. The funding is part of the National Opioid Settlement (NOS), a $26-billion agreement that aims to support municipalities harmed by the opioid epidemic.

More than nine people died each day as a result of a drug overdose in North Carolina in 2020. More than 28,000 North Carolinians died from a drug overdose between 2000 and 2020. In Mecklenburg County, there was a 167% increase in opioid-related death rates during that same period.

“Mecklenburg County has suffered for years through the opioid epidemic,” stated Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio in a release. “It’s been a crisis for so many families. These funds will help us navigate a path forward and we absolutely want our community at the table to discuss those options and solutions.” 

At a meeting scheduled for 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Oct. 27 the Valerie C. Woodard Center in west Charlotte, county leaders, health-care partners, providers, stakeholders, those with lived experience and others will convene to brainstorm and prioritize how the NOS funds can be used to address the opioid epidemic.

Center for Prevention Services
Angela Allen with the Center for Prevention Services will speak at next Thursday’s meeting.

Available strategies include evidence-based addiction treatment, recovery support services, recovery housing support, employment-related services, early intervention, Naloxone distribution, post-overdose response teams, syringe service program, criminal justice diversion programs, addiction treatment for incarcerated persons, and re-entry programs, among other services and programs. 

Mecklenburg County staff will conduct an online survey and hold a public hearing to gain additional community participation. They will use the results along with the work of the Substance Use Disorder Task Force to develop recommendations for the Board of County Commissioners to consider at a future meeting.

Four Arrested Following Shooting Near School Bus

Four men have been arrested following a shooting that took place near a school bus with children inside on West Boulevard on Tuesday. According to CMPD, police responded to a call about the shooting at around 6 p.m. that day. Responding officers found a school bus with nine children from Quail Hollow Middle School that had not been struck by the gunfire. Another car had been struck. 

Witnesses told officers that the suspects opened fire from the back of a Dodge Charger during what was believed to be a road rage incident. The victim in the car that was struck was not injured and did not return fire. About four hours later, officers located what they believed to be the suspect vehicle and initiated a pursuit that lasted about 10 minutes, after which four of the men inside were taken into custody. 

The suspects — two of whom are 19 years old and the other two are 21 — were all charged with discharging a firearm into a moving vehicle and resisting arrest. Two were also charged for firearm possession (one stolen and one possession by felon) while one also faces charges of felony speeding to elude.  

Park & Rec Unveils ‘Rec and Roll’ Mobile Unit

Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation (MCPR) announced the launch of its new “Meck Rec and Roll” van. The mobile unit focuses on providing programming for all ages to areas of the county that don’t have recreation centers within a short distance.

“We want to be in neighborhood parks that don’t have a rec center,” said Jay Tryon, MCPR recreation superintendent, in a release on Thursday. “The van allows us to take programming anywhere a van can go.”

Two children play with a giant Connect 4 game while Mecklenburg County's Rec and Roll van is in the background. Bags full of kickballs and other sporting goods sit near the van.
The Meck Rec and Roll van will bring the rec center to neighborhoods that don’t have one. (Photo courtesy of Mecklenburg County Parks & Rec)

MCPR upfitted a former 12-passenger van with shelving and hooks to store recreation equipment for games, or objects for nature programming. The van offers more than just kids’ programming. Activities for families and seniors are also part of the experience.

The Rec and Roll van is free; there is no cost to attend or participate in activities. Anyone can request the van for an event at their school, neighborhood, or other community space. County officials ask that interested parties submit a request at least 30 days prior to an event. though events occurring in less than 30 days will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

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