City Requests Review Of CMPD-Protester Incident, Asks For Community Feedback
The city of Charlotte is asking for a State Bureau of Investigations review of tactics used by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Tuesday evening to subdue protesters after a video appeared to show a crowd blocked off at both ends of a city block as tear gas was released.
Additionally, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said city leaders will host a community meeting at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center on Wednesday evening from 6-8 p.m. to hear concerns and answer questions. Another meeting will be held Friday from 6-8 p.m.
“Last night was one of those times that none of us can be proud of, that we wouldn’t want to see happen in our city,” Lyles said. “But it did. And I hope everyone is aware that that is not the kind of department we want to have for policing, that’s not the kind of reputation we want to have nationally or locally.”
As Lyles was speaking, CMPD issued a press release on the incident. Police said that over a four-hour period Tuesday evening, 16 protesters were arrested, there were at least 18 incidents of objects thrown at officers, nine dispersal orders were given, and three guns were recovered, including an assault rifle.
CMPD called the incident on Fourth Street where protesters were blocked off a “coordinated operation involving riot control agents to disperse the crowd.”
“There is nothing to indicate whatsoever that there was intentional abuse on the part of our officers,” a statement read. “It is regrettable and something we take seriously. We have an enormous responsibility to ensure all of our operations are carried out with precision.”
The incident was live-streamed by Queen City Nerve, and garnered national attention.
“What occurred last night is a reflection of us, and it’s important you continue to have trust in the leadership in this city,” city manager Marcus Jones said. “Last night is not a reflection of who we are.”
Lyles said she is asking for police body camera videos of the incident to be released.
CMPD Chief Kerr Putney, in a press conference about an hour later, also said he wants the body-cam video footage to be released. By North Carolina law, police body camera video can only be released when ordered by a judge.
"There are a lot of other angles and videos and perspectives that you need to see," Putney said. "I didn't like what I saw, and I can't wait until I can share more. ... I just don't like the way it looked. I wish it told the full story. It flies in the face of where we are morally as an organization. Our goal is to allow for lawful protests."
Even with the increased violence and confrontations between police and protesters, Lyles said she does not anticipate issuing a curfew in Charlotte. Other North Carlolina cities -- including Raleigh and Asheville -- do have curfews.
"As mayor of this city, I don’t believe we should have a curfew," she said. "I do believe deeply that people ought to be able to protest. I think they ought to be able to protest within the law, and I think that a curfew limits that right, and I don’t believe in that."
Lyles said she is hopeful continued dialogue with the community will help guide the city through this time of unrest.
"All of us feel that we are in a particularly dangerous time right now," Lyles said. "We can make a decision whether to actually work toward a better city or we can just sit and let ourselves be found in a place of darkness. I choose light over darkness any day."