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Protesters Converge In Charlotte For A Second Night, Blocking I-277; 30 Arrested

Updated 1 p.m. Sunday

At least 350 people crowded outside the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department headquarters in uptown Saturday night. Many chanted and held signs with phrases like “Black Lives Matter” and “Warning: Unarmed Black Man.”

It was the second night of protests in Charlotte spurred by Monday’s police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“For my little brother, for my father, for every black man in the world. Period,” said Camari Jones of Charlotte, who stood near the center of a group of people chanting. 

“We’re out here because we’re sick of the police killing our young black men and women. They know what they’re doing, we don’t have to repeat it over and over again,” Jones said.

Protests erupted in Charlotte and across the country last week after video showed a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling for nearly nine minutes on the neck of George Floyd. 

Tyvisha McGriff said she hopes the protests help police better understand how she says people of color feel.

“We're  making them uncomfortable just like we’re uncomfortable every day riding in the car doing something simple,” she said.

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Credit Jesse Steinmetz / WFAE
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WFAE
Protesters near Exit 2A blocked traffic on Charlotte's I-277 briefly on Saturday.

McGriff and her friend Nyshell Berra handed out bottles of water from a 12-pack to their fellow protesters. They said they wanted everyone to remain respectful, calm and nonviolent. 

Earlier in the evening, a smaller group of about 100 protesters completely blocked traffic on I-277 near uptown. 

Later, officers in riot gear fired tear gas and pepper spray multiple times into the crowd outside CMPD headquarters. Some protesters broke off and marched down Trade Street with police following them. Protesters pulled down chain-link construction fences and moved plastic barricades into a pile in an effort to stop police.

All of this followed a state of emergency declaration on Saturday. Charlotte City Council made that decision after Friday night’s protests in the Beatties Ford Road area led to violence. CMPD said windows on the precinct were broken, numerous police cars were damaged and three officers sustained minor injuries Friday night.

WFAE's Steve Harrison captured the scene in uptown Charlotte on Saturday night in these videos.

 

At 12:30 a.m. Sunday, Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted that he was in continuing contact with emergency management leaders about violence occurring in protests in some North Carolina cities.

"Frustrating that planned peaceful protests about real systemic racism are marred. I am grateful for those seeking justice peacefully," Cooper added.

Police say 30 people were arrested over the course of Saturday's protest in Charlotte, which carried over into the wee hours Sunday. Six people were arrested on weapons charges. 

According to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, "approximately 50-75" people who were rioting threw "rocks, explosives and other items" at officers, police property and businesses. Two officers were hurt although not seriously, according to the department. Someone fell into a manhole in uptown and protesters threw rocks at firefighters trying to help him, police said.

The department said Sunday in news release that some people involved in what became a riot fired shots on South College Street and that shell casings were found in some businesses. Some businesses were damaged, including Kings Kitchen and Discovery Place. 

Jennifer Lang and Dashiell Coleman contributed. 

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