All Eyes On North Carolina: The Week In Review From WFAE
This week began with all eyes locked on North Carolina as the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. by Pasquotank County deputies became the latest flash point in a seemingly endless stream of news and outrage over the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police.
A lawyer for the family, who viewed a 20-second snippet of body camera video on Monday, called the fatal shooting during an arrest an "execution." An independent autopsy showed Brown was shot five times, including in the back of the head, and the FBI began a civil rights probe into the case. The local prosecutor said deputies were hit by the car Brown was driving as the shooting unfolded, and a Superior Court judge denied requests to immediately release body camera footage to the public, saying he thought it could hinder the investigation. Family members will be able to view it sooner. A Charlotte media attorney told WFAE he thought the judge's claim that news outlets didn't have standing to request the video was "flat wrong and erroneous."
On the other side of the state, the Boone area is in mourning after a gunman killed his mother, stepfather and two deputies before shooting himself at the end of a 13-hour standoff. The Watauga County sheriff says the 32-year-old suspected gunman previously attacked his father, had a large cache of weapons, and may have been contemplating a public attack.
"This is an incredibly tragic situation," Sheriff Len Hagaman said.
And in a reminder that gun violence is not a new problem in America, UNC Charlotte this week marked the two-year anniversary of the campus mass shooting that claimed two lives and left four people injured. The university unveiled plans for a memorial to honor those affected by the tragedy.
The coronavirus pandemic, meanwhile, still affects just about every facet of life in North Carolina. But things are getting better. As of Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper dropped a requirement for face masks in most outdoor situations and raised the cap on mass gatherings indoors. And he says the state is likely on track for him to ease most remaining major restrictions by June.
School systems have had a tough year navigating the pandemic. But the fight against the virus in education has made major strides, too. The latest tally of COVID-19 cases in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools showed the lowest weekly number of employee infections since October — back when most students were still learning from home. Speaking of remote learning... A new report on third-quarter grades showed CMS students who consistently learned from home performed better than those who switched between in-person and virtual classes.
Another report that made news this week: new state population counts from the 2020 census. North Carolina grew by about 9.5% in the last decade to roughly 10.4 million residents. That growth — much of it concentrated in the Charlotte and Raleigh areas — has earned North Carolina a 14th seat in the U.S. House.
That means we're heading for debate over redrawing congressional districts — a perennial hot topic in North Carolina — ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. And if you think it's too early to be talking about 2022, well... the conversation is starting without you. Eight major party candidates have already announced bids for the U.S. Senate, including former state Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and ex-U.S. Rep. Ted Budd just this week.
Lastly, a 14th congressional seat isn't the only new thing coming to North Carolina. Tech giant Apple picked the Raleigh area for its first East Coast campus. That could mean as many as 3,000 new jobs in the coming years. WFAE and the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter took a deep dive into what Apple's move means for the state — and for taxpayers.
ICYMI: MORE LOCAL NEWS
Charlotte’s Arts & Science Council is working to support more culturally diverse and grassroots organizations. The effort follows its Cultural Equity Report admitting that organizations of color received less funding than larger organizations.
Students at Providence High may use facilities owned by the town to perform "Spamalot" in front of family, Mayor John Higdon said. This comes after CMS said such an event could only be performed before students and staff for safety reasons.
Duke Energy says it expects to triple the amount of renewable energy it produces by 2030. That's among the goals in the Charlotte-based company's annual sustainability report out Wednesday.
The coronavirus pandemic has helped speed the establishment of employee disaster relief programs at companies nationwide. That's bringing more business to Charlotte-based E4E Relief, a subsidiary of the Foundation For The Carolinas that runs these kinds of programs.
The Mecklenburg County Health Department is moving forward with plans to establish a violence interruption program in hopes of stemming violent crime, especially gun violence, in Charlotte.
The pandemic created a host of immediate challenges, but the key to long-term economic recovery is teaching North Carolina’s children to read. That’s according to state lawmakers who recently passed a new “science of reading” bill and a group of CEOs who gathered recently to support that strategy.
Meanwhile, Charlotte leaders have announced an effort to wipe out homelessness and expand affordable housing within five years. It's not the first time Charlotte has tried this, but some think this has a better chance at succeeding.
THE HIGH COST OF COVID-19
Restaurants, food trucks and other businesses in the food industry will be able to apply for federal grant funding next week to help them recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Adrian Miller lives in Colorado, but he has more than earned his merit badge as an honorary Southerner. In the latest SouthBound, Tommy Tomlinson interviews the James Beard Award-winning food writer and author of the new book "Black Smoke," about Black barbecue pioneers.
In the latest installment of Still Here, WFAE's series on resiliency in the wake of the pandemic, reporter Sarah Delia speaks with a woman about surviving COVID-19 with the help of her family — who refused to let her give up hope.
The guilty verdict in the death of George Floyd surprised a lot of people — especially Black Americans who are so used to these decisions going the other way. WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson, in his On My Mind commentary, wonders if the verdict will have a deeper meaning.
BEST OF CHARLOTTE TALKS
The killings of two transgender women in Charlotte put the LGBTQ community on alert. It’s nothing new for that community. They have long been susceptible to violence, harassment and discrimination. Now, some of that pressure is coming from lawmakers here and around the country. These pressures also lead to more mental health issues than the rest of the population.