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Day 12 Of Charlotte Demonstrations: A Moment Of Silence At New Black Lives Matter Mural

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Sarah Delia
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WFAE
Protesters kneel in uptown Charlotte on Tuesday during the 12th day of demonstrations.

Demonstrators gathered in Charlotte for the 12th night in a row Tuesday to demand an end to systemic racism and police brutality. But it was a different type of demonstration than in nights past. There was a sense of peace and reverence in the air and activism and voice through new artwork adorning a major uptown street.

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Credit Michael Falero / WFAE
People gather at the new Black Lives Matter mural on North Tryon Street in uptown Charlotte on Tuesday evening.

Most nights, crowds began to form first in front of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center or in Romare Bearden Park. But on Tuesday, demonstrators had a new spot to get together in uptown: the block of North Tryon Street upon which the words "Black Lives Matter" had been painted in huge letters hours earlier. 

Somer Dice was checking out the piece alongside her dog. She came because she wanted to support the black artists who helped create the mural.

"There is clearly a lot of emotion tied to art, and there is a lot of emotion tied to activism, so I think those things coming together isn’t a huge stretch for me," Dice said.

Dice lives and works in uptown and said she’s been trying to hand out snacks to protesters to keep people fueled at night.

There was less of a need for that Tuesday evening. Although free water and sandwiches were on standby. People mingled, took pictures with the art and slowed down a bit.

Jordan Woods, a Charlotte native, felt obligated to bear witness to the mural. His friend Garrison Gist was responsible for the letter K in the word "black."

"Art transcends communication to a degree," Woods said. "You can have art without any type of symbolism, and sometimes art is what you make it."

And each letter is packed with meaning. From the outstretched black fists raised in solidarity that cover an A to the questions asked in a thought bubble featured in the B: Do I not matter? Will I ever? Why won’t you love me, America?

Jennifer Miles called the mural -- and the moment -- historic and something that her family wanted to see. They also wanted to support the Black Lives Matter cause. 

"This is something that's not new to us -- social injustice, systemic racism,'" said Miles, who brought her 4- and 5-year-old sons with her to the rally. "These are are all problems that we have talked about in our communities, talked about in our families and our churches, and it's just good to see the support of the whole community coming together." 

Larry Kennedy came out to pay his respects to the artists who made the mural. He pointed out that both black and white artists worked together to make the piece come to life.

"To come out and see this happening in Charlotte, the Black Lives Matter movement is huge," Kennedy said. "It was a lot of effort put in, a lot of different races. It shows we can be united in this country. Unity exists in the country. Good people exist in this country."

The crowds had grown to several hundred people by 8:15 p.m.. That's when a voice on a bullhorn called for the crowd to stop what they were doing, gather together and take a knee.

So everyone knelt -- most wearing face masks as the county grapples with the coronavirus pandemic -- with fists held high to observe a moment of silence for George Floyd. 

Floyd's videotaped death at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked national outrage and led to the wave of protests that's reached cities across America. 

After eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence -- the amount of time Floyd was filmed dying as a Minneapolis officer knelt on his neck -- the crowd got up and started chanting, "This is what democracy looks like." 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1RHNL5MtJg&feature=youtu.be

Dashiell Coleman contributed.

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