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City Leaders Call For Unity After Police Incidents

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Ana Lucia Murillo
/
WFAE
Charlotte police chief Kerr Putney talked to reporters Friday, with Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles.

 Charlotte leaders gathered Friday afternoon to mourn over police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota and Thursday night's killings of police in Dallas. There was anger and sadness, and a call to use the incidents to build community. 

In a meeting with reporters at the Belmont Center, east of uptown, the police and community leaders called the shootings a "wake-up" call for Charlotte. County commission chair Trevor Fuller said it should prompt new discussions on race and violence.    

"This is not just a conversation just to appease one community or another. All of us are in this together … because the violence that affects me and my family as African-Americans affects you and your family, too," he said.

One of the groups that has helped lead such discussions is Cops & Barbers, led by Shaun Corbett. He owns a barbershop on North Tryon Street. Speaking with a sense of urgency, he said people of all backgrounds need to work together.

"But I represent a different Charlotte community," Corbett said. "What you would consider the have-nots. The Charlotte community that lives with the fear and the frustration of what's gonna happen when we walk out the door tomorrow. And truly understand. And what I'm here to say today is, the days of being afraid are over."

Charlotte NAACP President Corine Mack liked the message of unity at the event, but she said that's not enough.

“Until we as individuals have a self-examination, look at ourselves in the mirror, and make a conscious decision to do something different, to think something different, and to walk in the spirit of love, it means nothing,” Mack said.

Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney said the climate has affected his officers.

“You can see it in people's faces. We're seeing a lot of things, but what I don't wanna gloss over is … there's been a lot of hateful things said towards them directly for things that happen anywhere in the country, including last night,” Putney said.

He didn't mention past incidents in Charlotte, but said the community needs to heal.   

He said officers have responded professionally, even though the criticism hurts. He didn't mention past incidents - like a fatal shooting in east Charlotte three years ago - but said the community needs to heal.   

“We're not running from the history that we all know was a part of this profession,” Putney said. “What we're doing is trying to do is run to a better place, and our people are committed to doing that. We're not perfect, we make mistakes, but right now  we're trying to heal with the community yet again, because it's a process.” 

Putney said he would meet with all officers and staff, and continue community relations training.