Attending a Charlottean Protest

I visited uptown Charlotte tonight, amidst the current protests and unrest after Keith Scott’s death. My friend and I had a few tidbits of info on where people were meeting, but nothing concrete, so we wandered along several streets.

In areas where people weren’t protesting, businesses were closed, and the streets were unusually silent for 20:30 on a Friday night. Troops stood in clumps of three on corners, waving or saying hello when you passed them. The occasional humvee or police SUV drove by.

Things were more lively at the Omni Hotel, where folks had covered the sidewalk in chalk. There were lots of media there: it was clearly an “allowed”, acceptable, media-consumable gathering. I’d maybe characterize it as a space for quieter expression of grief, although it was criticized by another gathering as essentially being for the white people. The writings were names of people killed and sayings that many of us are familiar with: “hands up don’t shoot”, “when will we have justice?”, etc. Religious figures were around, praying with people.

Further down Trade St., past the bus station, a group had gathered in front of some government building. My friend and I stayed there for a while. They were chanting “I am my brother’s’ keeper!” and folks were stepping up to share their perspectives. Four National Guards and a cop stood between the crowd and the building (with the aid of crowd control barriers), utterly stoic when the crowd shouted questions at them.

When one person emphasized voting, a teacher stepped up and spoke some truth: voting won’t solve this. Hillary Clinton won’t fix this system, nor will Roy Cooper (the NC governor candidate opposed to Governor McCrory1I spent several moments trying to decide on an appropriately compassionate-yet-vitrolic descriptor for McCrory, and settled on a bland nothing.), and even Trump probably won’t significantly increase the rate at which we’re killed. The teacher freely admitted they didn’t have a solution, but pushed that we not rest on the idea that politicians will solve this for us.

The reminder that there is no simple solution is both motivating and depressing—my friend and I spitballed ideas on the bus ride home, trying to think of even infeasible ideas that weren’t a goofy “burn it all down”.

I took a few pictures, but probably won’t post them. It felt very touristy to take them, and the ones that struck me most were of the soldiers or people interacting with them, and I’m not okay with posting pictures of people (especially when faces are included) without their permission.

I hope people stayed safe for the rest of the evening.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. I spent several moments trying to decide on an appropriately compassionate-yet-vitrolic descriptor for McCrory, and settled on a bland nothing.