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Sheriff's Office Removes Protesters From Charlotte Uprising 'Jail Support' Site

Mecklenburg County deputy sheriffs arrested 43 people Thursday at an aid station in front of the Mecklenburg County jail -- a few hours after the sheriff told them to leave the area. 

The area, next to a sidewalk, had been used by protesters with Charlotte Uprising since protests against systemic racism and police brutality began three weeks ago to provide food, water, masks and rides for people who are released from jail. The group has also provided medical aid during nightly protests.

But on Thursday morning, Sheriff Garry McFadden told the group to leave the site dubbed "jail support" by 2 p.m. In a press release issued Thursday evening, the sheriff's office said it received several complaints about the group harassing visitors, employees and impeding business operations. Complaints ranged from spitting and banting on windows to sleeping overnight at the area, blocking bus lanes and pedestrian traffic.

A video posted on Twitter by Charlotte Uprising showed McFadden telling the group to move. 

"So you're giving us a four-hour window to do this?" one person asked.

"Yes, and if you need something to be moved, we can help with that move, we have a truck," McFadden said.

More people had come to the area by 2 p.m. to protest the sheriff's move, and tensions grew. Patrol cars lined Fourth Street with blue lights on. The group asked the numerous deputies why they were being told to move after weeks of being there.

"We're not doing anything wrong," someone yelled.

Inches separated the group and deputies at times as curses filled the air and deputies demanded people stay out of the street.

Deputies warned the crowd if they did not disperse, they would be taken into custody. While some left, others remained asking why they were being removed.

One man yelled “I am not resisting” as he was taken into custody. A woman lifted both legs as two deputies held her on either side. Another man who appeared unwilling to move, was carried away by three deputies.

“I am deeply disturbed because I support the cause of reentry into the community as it is apart of my Mission and Vision for my agency," McFadden said in a statement. "What I cannot support is an unsafe and disruptive environment for those conducting business at MCSO facilities. I now look forward to continuing positive dialogue with members of the community as we move past this unfortunate incident.”

At least one public defender was among the many taken into custody.

Eventually, supplies were loaded into vehicles and taken away.

By evening, Charlotte Uprising tweeted that it had set up jail support again -- on the other side of the street.

Credit Sarah Delia / WFAE
A woman is pulled away from the "jail support" tent by Mecklenburg County sheriff's deputies on Thursday.

Sarah Delia is a Senior Producer for Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Sarah joined the WFAE news team in 2014. An Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist, Sarah has lived and told stories from Maine, New York, Indiana, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina. Sarah received her B.A. in English and Art history from James Madison University, where she began her broadcast career at college radio station WXJM. Sarah has interned and worked at NPR in Washington DC, interned and freelanced for WNYC, and attended the Salt Institute for Radio Documentary Studies.