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Council Member: Shooting Shouldn't 'Overshadow Good Work' Along Charlotte Corridor

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David Boraks
/
WFAE

Three people are dead and six others wounded by gunfire after an impromptu block party near the intersection of Beatties Ford Road and LaSalle Street turned violent around 12:30 a.m today.

Five others were hit by vehicles fleeing the scene of several hundred people. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say several shooters fired dozens of shots into the crowd. They are asking anyone with information to contact them. City Council member Malcolm Graham, who represents that area, says he’s frustrated that the incident happened as Beatties Ford Road residents are working to revitalize the corridor.

Malcolm Graham: I don't want what happened last night to overshadow the good work of community leaders, neighborhood associations and some of the businesses on the ground.

Gwendolyn Glenn: And I understand that a lot of businesses are not open today. And I know you were saying that you knew people would come back. Is it because it's still a crime scene or are people not just opening today?

Graham: I'm not sure. Obviously, the police were still out there all morning trying to gather evidence and shell casings. Well over 80 shots were fired. It's just unimaginable that something can happen like bad on a public city street. Some are closed because of COVID-19. Others just have not opened simply because there's a crime scene right in front of their stores.

Glenn: Now, a lot of people have told some of our reporters that they kind of resent their presence because they feel like this will make the area look bad when earlier Juneteenth celebrations were very peaceful. What are your thoughts on that?

Graham: Well, this was an unsanctioned event. The Juneteenth celebration was Friday. It went off without a hitch. Folks were celebrating history, heritage and tradition, and what occurred last night had nothing to do with that. And so it's a growing community rich in pride and heritage and tradition that's doing a lot of good work over there. We still have a long ways to go, but good work is being done.

Glenn: There are also plans to revitalize Beatties Ford Road and LaSalle Street to make it pedestrian-friendly and you have design plans going on there. How will something like this affect that particular project? Or will it?

Graham: It will have no impact on it. We'll simply have to pick up the pieces and continue to march forward. The city, just in our most recent budget for July 1, there's over $24 million dollars for corridor revitalization. A lot of those dollars will land right on Beatties Ford Road and LaSalle Street. There is a plan in place with our urban ministry partners and the West Side Coalition. Again, a lot of people over there are doing a lot of good work in terms of trying to change the perception of the community. However, we have to acknowledge that something really, really bad happened in our community last night. It's not a district issue. It's a citywide issue that we have to deal with. I'm going to get more information, work with neighborhood leaders, business owners, as well as the mayor and the council to ensure that we continue to invest in that area.

Glenn: And how do you specifically do that? Because this story has been reported nationally, not just locally. How do you change that perception to get people to come to the area as you are revitalizing it? What do you do, specifically?

Graham: You know, if we continue to do the work, be an honest, broker and acknowledge where we are in our revitalization efforts, we'll continue to do the work.

Glenn: And how are you feeling at this point?

Graham: A little frustrated. I mean, for the last two weeks, there has been a lot of peaceful marching in our streets of Charlotte, fighting for equality and social justice issues and all that good work, from my perspective, goes down the drain because of one or two or three individuals who simply have no self-control, no disregard for human life and people. And so the focus should be on why people are out there marching and celebrating. Now, the focus is on something else. And so I'm just heartbroken that all the good work, again, that's been done over the last couple of months by community leaders and others to really serve as a sparkplug for the efforts over there — simply a lot of cold water was thrown on that last night. We'll dry ourselves off, pick up the pieces and continue to do the work.

Glenn: And I understand there is a march that is going to happen there today. Do you think that it will help because it's about respecting life?

Graham: Honestly, my heart and prayers are with the family of those that were lost ... last night. I believe in peaceful demonstration, and folks believe that's what they need to do today and they should do it and be allowed a space for that to occur. But we've got some hard work to do. We have to take a look at our, as I said, the man in the mirror critique what we see: the good, the bad and the ugly. And then, as a community, be willing to make some tough decisions and be honest brokers. We just simply can't complain when the police may have done something wrong and be silent when something like this occurs, to be able to say loud and clear that what happened last night was just horrendous. It was dumb. It was stupid. It was careless. It was reckless. We have to acknowledge that.

Glenn: Well, Malcolm, thanks for talking with us today.

Graham: Thank you for having me.

This is a developing story that will be updated. 

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