Kristie Puckett-Williams Fired from ACLU for Twitter Spat
It came to light on Wednesday that longtime Charlotte-based organizer Kristie Puckett-Williams, most recently the deputy director of engagement with the ACLU of NC, has been fired from that organization following a Twitter argument with local conservative radio host Pete Kaliner.
The ACLU of NC originally stood behind Puckett-Williams after the Twitter spat, during which she told Kaliner to “suck my dick from the back like you used to,” but has since capitulated to right-wing groups like the John Locke Foundation, which called for her firing following the online interaction earlier this month.
In a statement to conservative media outlet Carolina Journal on Feb. 7, the ACLU of NC wrote, ““We respect the right of everyone, including employees of ACLU of NC, to exercise the constitutional right to free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment, which includes the right to express their views as individuals on their own personal social media platforms.” A week later, however, things had changed.
On Wednesday, Emancipate NC, for which Pucket-Williams serves on the board, tweeted, “We are deeply concerned that [Puckett-Williams] has been fired by [ACLU of NC]. The policing of language by anyone, but especially of a formerly incarcerated Black woman, is inconsistent with our organizations moral and values. We stand with Kristie. Free speech is free for all,” adding that EmancipateNC will “reevaluate being in community” with the ACLU.
On Thursday, Puckett-Williams told Queen City Nerve, “I’m very disappointed that the ACLU of NC’s board and ED felt it necessary to fire me in response to this exchange I had on my personal Twitter account. It is impossible for me to reconcile this decision with an org that says it stands for the First Amendment and Black women, and against efforts to silence and undermine the voice of those most marginalized. I made clear my commitment and desire to repair things, internally and externally, and continue to learn and grow from this experience. Although last week there appeared to be an understanding and agreement about a pathway forward, something obviously changed. I appreciate the years I spent at the ACLU and I will not stop doing this essential work until we are all free.”
Home Belonging to Mayor Lyles Demolished in West End
Mayor Vi Lyles moved forward with the demolition of a home she owns in the Historic West End neighborhood of McCrorey Heights on Wednesday despite a petition calling for the house to be saved. The story came to light after the petition began to gain ground on Tuesday, garnering more than 600 signatures.
The home in question, located on Madison Avenue in McCrorey Heights, was built by Black engineer Isaac Heard Sr. in the 1950s and includes an extension built by Harvey Gantt in 1975. Lyles was granted a permit to demolish the home on Aug. 10, 2022, days before Charlotte City Council established McCrorey Heights, a historically Black neighborhood founded by JCSU President H.L. McCrorey in 1912, as a historic district.
Lyles said she bought the home planning to fix it up but decided she would need to demolish it and start over after finding major structural problems in the home’s foundation. As crews were preparing to demolish the home on Thursday, Lyles vowed that any new construction will follow all rules of the Charlotte Historic District Commission and neighborhood covenants.
Lyles’ family has deep roots in McCrorey Heights, as pointed out by the mayor’s daughter, Aisha Alexander-Young, who voiced her frustration with people whom she accused of running with false narratives on Twitter Wednesday.
“Our grandfather’s dying wish in 2020 was for us to preserve and grow our family’s legacy in McCrorey Heights,” Alexander-Young wrote. “He owned multiple properties in the neighborhood. Keep it a Black community. Preserve its history and protect it from gentrification. We take that very seriously.”
City Announces New “Planning Areas”
Charlotte’s planning department on Thursday announced a community area planning process as the next step in implementing the Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan. Area planning is a process to make recommendations for land development, transportation and infrastructure improvements, as well as amenities and services.
“Community Area Plans are the next step in planning the future of individual Charlotte communities,” said Alyson Craig, interim planning director for the city, in a release. “These plans preserve, enhance and celebrate communities by providing more detailed strategies and actions for growth and development for specific areas.”
The city will work collaboratively with residents during the next two years to develop draft plans for 14 geographic areas that together span all of Charlotte.
Pedestrian Killed in North End
A man was struck and killed while crossing the street in north Charlotte this week, becoming the third pedestrian to be stuck and killed by a car in Charlotte so far this year. At around 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, first responders were called to North Graham Street near Dalton Avenue in reference to a vehicle collision involving a pedestrian. When officers arrived, they located a 2008 Chevrolet Silverado with front-end damage in the roadway. Officers also located a pedestrian, 62-year-old James Alexander, near the Silverado on the sidewalk unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The initial investigation indicated that Alexander was crossing Graham Street near Dalton Avenue when he was struck. He was not in a crosswalk and was not wearing reflective clothing. Alexander crossed the inbound direction of travel on North Graham Street and made it to the right lane of the outbound direction of travel on North Graham Street when he was struck by the Chevrolet Silverado, the driver of which pulled over immediately after the collision. Speed is not believed to be a factor for the Chevrolet Silverado.
Three Killed in Shootings Around Charlotte
Three people were killed in separate shooting incidents around Charlotte this week, two of which are believed to be related to domestic violence. At around 3:15 p.m. on Sunday, police responded to a shooting call on Billy Graham Parkway near West Tyvola Road, where they found 30-year-old Deshaun Moore with an apparent gunshot wound. Medic transported Moore to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The next day, police arrested a 23-year-old man and charged him with murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and possession of a firearm by felon. WSOC reported that Moore was with his sister when the shooting occurred because he was protecting her from the suspect, who had been in an abusive relationship with her and had threatened her with a gun the previous day.
Shortly before midnight on Monday, police responded to a shooting call in front of VINYL and Wooden Robot Brewery on Summit Avenue in South End, where they found a man and a woman suffering from gunshot wounds. The woman, 23-year-old Dionyah Thompson, was pronounced dead at the scene while the man was transported to a nearby hospital by Medic. He was also later pronounced dead. Police later determined that the man in this case, 33-year-old Elie Noel, shot and killed Thompson before turning the gun on himself.
At around 10:25 a.m. on Thursday, police responded to a call to assist Medic on North Poplar Street in Uptown’s Fourth Ward, where they located 71-year-old Leon Mack suffering life-threatening injuries. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police located a suspect a short distance away and took him into custody. The 51-year-old man would be charged with murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon. Queen City News reported that Mack was shot in his car during a robbery attempt.
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