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Area Youth Group Leads A 'March And Feed' On 13th Day Of Demonstrations In Charlotte

UPDATED 9:10 p.m.

On the 13th day of demonstrations in Charlotte against police violence and systemic racism, a "March and Feed" led by the Million Youth March of Charlotte and Salisbury began Wednesday night at Charlotte's Marshall Park. Later, the group joined others at the "Silence for the Silenced" vigil in Romare Bearden Park.

Evan Kent, left, and Kayelani Murillo unload snacks and water to distribute to homeless residents outside the county services center.
Credit Claire Donnelly / WFAE
Evan Kent, left, and Kayelani Murillo unload snacks and water to distribute to homeless residents outside the county services center.

About 50 protesters marched from the park to the county services building on Phifer Avenue, where they distributed bags of food and supplies to homeless people outside the building. The bags they handed out contained sandwiches, snacks and water bottles. They also gave out hygiene kits with toiletries like soap, toothpaste and nail clippers.

From the county services building, the group continued to the Urban Ministry Center, where they again passed out snacks and drinks to homeless residents living in tents nearby. 

Kendrick Cunningham, one of the march organizers, said when police officers used tear gas on protesters at previous demonstrations, the city's homeless residents were also affected. 

"So we wanted to pay our tribute back to them and let them know that we see them and we love them," Cunnigham said. "While we're affirming that black lives matter, all lives matter as well. And homeless lives matter just as much as all of ours."

Cunningham is 23 and said he's attended protests in Charlotte since the third night. 

"I'm a black man. I understood that a lot of people who are out here were youth and we don't have any generational guidance coming from anywhere," he said. "So I wanted to be that guiding light for my generation."

As marchers passed out bags of food to the homeless, many chanted, "We see you, we love you!"

With more protesters joining in, at least 100 people marched to Tryon Street where a Black Lives Matter mural was painted on the street Monday. 

Artists complete the base paint layers for the "Black Lives Matter" mural on Tryon Street in Uptown Charlotte.
Credit Michael Falero / WFAE
Artists complete the base paint layers for the "Black Lives Matter" mural on Tryon Street in uptown Charlotte, Monday.

At 8 p.m. the group joined a candlelight vigil in Romare Bearden Park. The vigil was organized by the Charlotte Youth Climate Collective, the NAACP and Kidz Fed Up. 

Hundreds of people attended the vigil, called "Silence for the Silenced," which was designed to honor those killed by police, according to Jacqueline Dinh with the Charlotte Youth Climate Collective. Dinh, 15, was passing out candles to attendess. She said she helped organize the March for Our Lives event at her school when she was in seventh grade. 

"Growing up as a woman, as a second generation immigrant, a South Asian in America, social justice has always just called towards me. I felt like I needed to do something," Dinh said. 

At the candlelight vigil, attendees listened to speakers and marked nine minutes of silence, the approximate length of time that a Minneapolis police officer knelt on George Floyd's neck. 

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Later in the evening at around 11:20 p.m., according to CMPD, a group of 20 protesters walked onto I-277 at the Fourth Street ramp, moving construction barrels and cones across the roadway to block traffic. Police said at least 70 vehicles, including Charlotte Fire Department Engine 42, were blocked.

When CMPD arrived, protesters fled and traffic was flowing again by 11:30 p.m., according to police.

Five protesters were arrested and charged with impeding traffic.

Jennifer Lang and Jodie Valade contributed to this report.

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Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. Reach her at cdonnelly@wfae.org or on Twitter @donnellyclairee.
Michael Falero is a radio reporter, currently covering voting and the 2020 election. He previously covered environment and energy for WFAE. Before joining WFAE in 2019, Michael worked as a producer for a number of local news podcasts based in Charlotte and Boston. He's a graduate of the Transom Story Workshop intensive on Cape Cod and UNC Chapel Hill.