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UNC Charlotte 'March For Justice' Fills Streets With Calls For Change

Chants of "black lives matter" echoed off the buildings of UNC Charlotte as students, faculty, and campus police joined together for a three-mile march in and around the north Charlotte campus Saturday afternoon.

The UNCC "March To End Injustice" was organized by a group of UNCC students who also happen to be roommates: Joshua Mason, Pruthu Patel, Marut Patel, and Kyle Uy. They began organizing the march on Tuesday and secured donations of water, food, and medical supplies from fellow students and several businesses near campus.

Credit Nick de la Canal / WFAE
Joshua Mason, left, speaks to a crowd before Saturday's march.

Before the demonstration began, marchers were asked to wear face masks and refrain from violence. If someone didn't have a face mask, they were supplied with one by volunteers.

Organizer Joshua Mason spoke to the crowd through a bullhorn, saying the march was focused on ending systemic opression of African Americans in the United States.

"The goal today is to promote peace, unity, and justice," Mason said. "We refuse to ignore racism. We refuse to have unjust cops targeting and racially profiling our black brothers and sisters. We refuse to have wrongful imprisonments by our judicial system, and we refuse the overall corruptness of a government that seems to not care."

Credit Nick de la Canal / WFAE

At its height, the march stretched nearly five city blocks long and two car lanes wide. Officers with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department blocked off parts of North Tryon Street and Mallard Creek Church Road as the march was underway.

Many in the crowd were college students, many of them attending UNC Charlotte, though other schools were represented as well, including Central Piedmont Community College and North Carolina State University, among others. UNC Charlotte's chief of police, Jeff Baker, also attended the march, along with several members of the campus police, all dressed in plain clothes.

Credit Nick de la Canal / WFAE
Jamiyah Castleberry, a UNC Charlotte senior, was among the marchers.

"I think it's wonderful, and certainly necessary," Baker said of the march. "The enthusiasm and solidarity to end police brutality is definitely evident, and it needs to end."

UNC Charlotte's football head coach Will Healy also attended along with several members of the school's football team, some wearing their uniforms. Mecklenburg County Commissioner Susan Harden, also a UNCC faculty member, was also among the marchers.

About a third of the way through, the march came to a brief halt at the intersection of North Tryon Street and Mallard Creek Road. There, marchers knelt as organizers read a list of names of African Americans killed by police.

Credit Nick de la Canal / WFAE
N.C. State sophomore Shalom Cobb, left, and UNC Charlotte sophomore Laila Barnes.

The march later wound through the main entrance of the UNC Charlotte campus, past the library, and to the Student Union, where marchers crowded together and chanted the names of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, two African Americans whose deaths at the hands of police in recent months have sparked nationwide protests.

The protest came on the ninth consecutive day of protests around the Charlotte area. More protests were expected in uptown Charlotte later in the evening.

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