News & Opinion

Weekly News Roundup: Hundreds Participate in Student-Led Climate Strike

Students Lead Climate Strike in Uptown Charlotte

About 500 adults and young people skipped school or work Friday morning to rally for climate change solutions in front of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center this morning in solidarity with 1,000 similar events held around the country and 500 more elsewhere around the globe.

Ages in attendance ranged from elderly to elementary schoolers as speakers took to the podium to rail against problems local and international, from decrying the business practices of Duke Energy here in Charlotte to demanding the passage of a Green New Deal in the United States. The event was organized by The Climate Reality Project, Sunrise Movement Charlotte and Extinction Rebellion Charlotte, among others.

“We need to strike because the people who are supposed to take action aren’t,” said 13-year-old Lucia Paulsen, US Youth Climate Strike’s NC State lead. “We need to grow up and be adults for the adults that can’t seem to understand simple facts.”

Leaders of Friday’s Climate Strike Charlotte event. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

Claire McClave, US Youth Climate Strike’s NC Press Director, age 14, said, “The US needs to implement a Green New Deal, and we need to do it now. Our administration hasn’t listened to science so far, but other countries have already declared climate emergencies because of youth strikes. Maybe we’ll be next.”

Kaylah Brathwaite, 18, serves as the deputy director of operations for The Zero Hour and a leader in the Sunrise Movement. She said, “I’m continuously inspired by the youth in the climate movement and the millions of people who participated in the Global Climate Strike. We strike because when large systems and people stand in opposition to the very viability of our planet, we must fight in unity and we must fight strategically. I hope that the elected officials of Charlotte take heed that we are in an era of a Green New Deal and that the youth will not stop now or ever. To everyone who struck on September 20, I see you, and asking for a livable future is the very least our governments can give us. Specifically in Charlotte, I call on our mayor to establish an environmental committee and restore a grave mistake to the Charlotte community.”

Near the end of the event, hundreds of attendees held a die-in in the plaza outside of the Government Center. Extinction Rebellion is planning another die-in in the same spot at 1 p.m. this afternoon.

UNC Charlotte Shooter Pleads Guilty, Sentenced

A 21-year-old man who shot and killed two schoolmates and injured four others in a UNC Charlotte classroom in April pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder on Thursday. The plea deal will save the shooter from having to face the possibility of the death penalty. He also pleaded guilty to four counts of attempted murder and discharging a firearm on educational property. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences with no chance of parole.

On April 20, the shooter walked into a classroom in UNC Charlotte’s Kennedy building and opened fire. Investigators later released documents stating that the shooter gave up on his plan after he was tackled by Riley Howell, but not before shooting six people, including 21-year-old Howell, who died of his wounds and has been hailed a hero. The shooter also killed 19-year-old Ellis Parlier.

The April 30 UNC Charlotte shooting took place in the Kennedy building on campus. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

Though Charlotte-Mecklenburg District Attorney Spencer Merriweather said in a press conference following Thursday’s hearing that the plea will allow the families of the victims to avoid the anguish of a lengthy death penalty trial, one of the shooter’s surviving victims, Drew Pescaro, implied in many social media posts throughout the week that he wanted the shooter to face trial.

“Welcome to Charlotte, North Carolina. A place where you can be shot, witness two of your classmates die, three others sustain injuries, and the murderer gets to determine the ‘punishment’ that works best for him,” he tweeted on Thursday. 

Ellis Parlier’s mother, Julie Parlier, tearfully read a statement at Thursday’s hearing, saying that her family will never forgive the shooter.

“If the defendant wanted to kill someone, he should have turned the gun on himself,” she stated. “May you rot in hell and suffer torture.”

In his own statement, the shooter apologized to the families of the victims and stated that if he could go back in time, he would have backed out of the plan.

Lane Closes, North Charlotte Loses It

The Charlotte Department of Transportation released a notice about a lane closure and new traffic pattern on southbound North Tryon Street just north of Uptown on Wednesday a day after implementing the changes, sending drivers commuting between north Charlotte and Uptown into fits on Tuesday. Multiple cars and even emergency vehicles were witnessed going the wrong way where the changes were made.

A new permanent traffic pattern that opened on Tuesday diverts southbound North Tryon Street traffic onto North Church Street, both of which have been reduced to one lane. Usual two lane traffic will not reopen until Jan. 10, 2020, according to the notice.

(Graphic courtesy of Charlotte Department of Transportation)

“This closure is necessary for median and storm drain construction related to the North Tryon Business Corridor project,” the notice read. “The project will promote economic development and provide improved infrastructure that will include crosswalks, sidewalks, curb and gutter, milling/resurfacing, planting strips, decorative lighting, bike lanes, consolidated new overhead utilities, street trees and landscaping. The project will encourage development and support growth in distressed business corridors.”

Three CATS stops will transition from North Tryon Street to North Church Street. Previous stops are marked with the update and new signs are in place on North Church Street.

The CDOT did tweet out a map about the changes at 11:40 a.m. on Tuesday, but many still took to social media confused about the changes. A press release was sent out by the city and county on Wednesday.

High School Student Struck by Car in Front of Garinger High

Israel Plyler (Photo courtesy of Russell Plyler)

A 16-year-old Garinger student suffered life-threatening injuries after being struck by a car at the intersection of Eastway Drive and East Sugar Creek Road in front of the school on Thursday afternoon.

Police say the victim was crossing the road in a marked crosswalk in a posted 25 mph school zone when he was struck by a 2015 Acura. Witnesses said the Acura had a green light and the right of way. The student was struck as he neared the center median and thrown into the intersection.

The driver remained on scene and was screened for impairment. Neither impairment nor speed is suspected to be a factor in the wreck.

The crosswalk was placed there after student Brittany Palmer was hit by a car and killed in April 2012. She was the second student struck at that intersection within a year. Another boy was struck in the intersection in 2015.

[UPDATE: The student was pronounced dead at CMC Main this afternoon just before 2 p.m. He’s been identified as 16-year-old Israel Plyler.]

Two Homicides in Charlotte This Week

Corey Miller (Photo courtesy of

A 51-year-old woman and 48-year-old man were killed in separate incidents in Charlotte this week.

On Monday morning just after midnight, police responded to an assault call on Rachel Street in the Druid Hills South neighborhood of north Charlotte and found 48-year-old Corey Miller lying dead from multiple gunshot wounds in the driveway of a home.

On Thursday evening just after 7 p.m., police responded to Fagan Way in the Firestone-Garden Park neighborhood of north Charlotte and found 51-year-old Lillie Mae Stewart dead inside a residence. According to investigators, Stewart was inside the residence with the female suspect and a male witness. An argument between Stewart and the suspect spilled out into the front yard, where Stewart “received traumatic injuries.” Though police could not confirm a cause of death, neighbors told investigators that they heard shots fired during the incident.

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