Protesting The Killing Of George Floyd, Large Crowd Gathers At CMPD's Beatties Ford Station
UPDATED 11:48 p.m.
As people protested Saturday night on Beatties Ford Road, Mayor Vi Lyles told WSOC-TV that she has an understanding of the frustration, anger and sadness of the protesters.
“To be a person who attends church on Beatties Ford Road, who believes in this entire community being better and to know that we have to deal with tough issues like equity and inclusion, I guess what I’m really concerned about is that I have a great appreciation for protesting. I have even a greater appreciation for the activism that we have in this community because it’s helping Charlotte be a better place to live for everyone," Lyles said.
“I don’t understand how we can take this and move it into a positive way around a conversation and understanding and getting better. To the family of George Floyd and to the many people that we’ve had to deal with in our own personal city history that we know that this is an important time. But I also have a complete understanding of the frustration, and the anger, and the sadness, of people that are protesting."
UPDATED 9:41 p.m.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have tweeted that several protesters have damaged police vehicles and continue to throw rocks at officers. Rocks thrown at the Metro Division Office on Beatties Ford Road have broken several windows.
CMPD’s Civil Emergency Unit has been deployed, declaring the protest an unlawful assembly.
Several protesters have damaged police cruisers and continue to throw rocks at officers and the Metro Division office.— CMPD News (@CMPD) May 30, 2020
A group calling itself "Justice For Police Brutality - Charlotte" was created on Facebook on Thursday, and quickly organized a protest event scheduled for Friday evening outside the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Beatties Ford station. By late afternoon, 273 people said they were going to the protest, and 720 said they were "interested."
The protest was scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The reason for that location, according to the unnamed administrator of the group, was because the station is "in an area that is heavily policed and faces a lot of oppression from the police. It's in the same area where Danquirs Franklin was murdered last year. We are protesting here to show solidarity with the working class people who live in this area."
Franklin was shot and killed in March 2019 by CMPD officer Wende Kerl outside a Beatties Ford Burger King when officers responded to a 911 call about a man with a gun. Video shows Kerl asking Franklin to "drop the weapon" before Kerl shot; footage shows Franklin saying, "You told me to ..." right after he was shot.
No charges were filed against Kerl, who said she perceived Franklin as a threat.
People attending Friday's protest were urged to bring "shelf-stable milk" and first aid kits in anticipation of tear gas being used to subdue the crowd.
With a profile photo that reads "Justice for George Floyd" and the date 5/28/2020 above it, the group administrator also acknowledged that those behind the event organization were "radical activists" who believe police "are enemies of the people."
"There have been questions about the people organizing this and the politics behind it - we are radical activists that are against reforming the police system because we believe they are enemies of the people," the administrator wrote. "We don't think there is any way to reform the police or the legal system because their violent and oppressive nature is intrinsic to the purpose they serve to the ruling class. The only way we can end this system is by uniting to fight them as a people."
The event description said "Let's show CMPD that we won't stand for racist violence towards the people of Charlotte and show solidarity with protesters in Minneapolis!"
The potential of protests turning violent in Charlotte conjured memories of September 2016, when protests over the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott turned violent in uptown, and one person was killed.
Protests have been held across the country in the past two days, a response to the death of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis. A video taken by a bystander showed Derek Chauvin, a white officer, pressing his knee firmly on the back of Floyd's neck for at least seven minutes as Floyd, a black man, pleaded to be released because he couldn't breathe.
Chauvin and three other police officers were fired by the Minneapolis police department, and on Friday, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
The charges come after three straight days of unrest in Minneapolis, culminating with protesters storming the city's 3rd Police Precinct, the closest precinct to the site of Floyd's arrest, and setting fire to that building after police withdrew in an attempt to mitigate tensions. Rioters also burned and looted other buildings in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.