Over two dozen people were arrested Monday morning across from the Mecklenburg County Detention Center for holding a sit-in protest and temporary small-scale revival of Jail Support, which has offered services and supplies to people leaving the Uptown jail since late May.
Roughly 20 individuals sat on the curb holding banners reading “Mutual aid is not a crime” and “Jail support is essential,” while handing out snacks and Gatorade to passers-by. Another dozen or so stood nearby in support, many filming or live-streaming the events.
Deputies with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office dismantled jail support on Sept. 11, making five arrests during the early morning hours. Deputies arrived on the scene on Monday within 15-20 minutes of Jail Support members appearing at their former location. A dispersal order was read, and repeated, saying they could not remain and would be subject to arrest if they failed to heed the warning.
“As you know, many people who held themselves out to be Jail Support claiming to provide resources for individuals being released, just as you may be offering now, turned into an encampment on 4th Street,” an officer said, reading from the dispersal order. The order also charged that “many of those individuals” were engaged in conduct that “challenged public safety and public healthy.”
Sheriff Garry McFadden has lodged a number of allegations against the group, including claiming members of jail support were responsible for human feces on sidewalks, public sex acts, and property destruction. McFadden has also said he is “in favor of the concept of jail support” but that he believes those efforts were “hijacked,” and that he would be willing to speak with the group about setting up resources within the detention center building itself.
The order also referenced a desire to work with the group to provide resources and assistance to those being released. Charlotte Uprising, the collective responsible for running jail support, made clear at a press conference following the Sept. 11 arrests and dismantling, that as an abolitionist group they had no interest in working with the sheriff’s office.
Deputies began making arrests after warning that anyone remaining would be charged with trespassing and possibly resisting arresting if applicable, handcuffing activists behind their backs and carrying or dragging them to a waiting van, as nearly all of the protesters went limp. A few yelled out and said they were in pain while being detained.
The group’s property, which included banners, folding chairs, a cooler, and snacks, was also confiscated during the arrests. After everyone participating in the sit-in was taken into custody, deputies began clearing the road and made several more arrests of people who were there in support of those involved in the sit-in.
This latest action marks the third time Jail Support has been taken down by the sheriff’s office.
Back in June, Jail Support was also forcibly removed from its original location, then on the same side of the street as the jail, at which time 43 people were arrested. There have also been reports of individuals waiting outside the jail since the Sept. 11 takedown being arrested, including Mecklenburg County Assistant Public Defender Habekah Cannon, who said she was waiting outside her office to perform her duties as a county employee at the time of her arrest.
Cannon was arrested again on Monday. She was live-streaming and video appears to show her identifying herself as a legal observer while being taken into custody, with a deputy telling her she “should have moved.”
Ash Williams, an organizer with Charlotte Uprising, reported a total of 26 arrests, and said the response from the sheriff’s deputies was “anticipated,” and called it “just as brutal as the reactions we’ve seen before.”
“I think this time our approach was different,” Williams added. “We were really clear that we wanted to be more silent and literally just sitting, so that there was no way that they could say we were doing anything wrong, outside of just being there.”
“I feel like we met our goal today,” they continued. “The cops don’t tell us what to do, and we like to do things on our own terms … We plan to take up space to do jail support, and to continue reminding people about police violence in Charlotte.”
Most protesters were charged with failure to disperse, while some were also charged with second-degree trespassing and resisting arrest. Some were given bonds, some were not. The last protester was released on Tuesday morning, according to a tweet form Charlotte Uprising.
Protesters said they chose Monday’s date for their most recent action in honor of the four-year anniversary of Justin Carr’s death, a 26-year-old protester who was shot and killed during the second night of the Keith Lamont Scott protests in Uptown Charlotte, as well as in Scott’s memory.
A fellow protester, Rayquan Borum, was found guilty in Carr’s death, but many activists have maintained that they believe he is innocent and that Carr was instead killed by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Action NC held a vigil for Carr last night at Marshall Park.
Requests for comment from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office were not returned as of press time.