Hundreds Of Protesters March Through Charlotte's Myers Park

Jun 1, 2020

Monday the Black Lives Matter movement took to the streets of Myers Park  on the fourth day of protests over the death of George Floyd.

Debbie George from Myers Park encourages protesters on Queens Road West.

Organizer Kass Ottley says she chose Myers Park  for a reason: "Because this is one of the richest, wealthiest white neighborhoods in Charlotte."

Ottley, founder of Seeking Justice CLT, says she doesn’t want to let people with power and privilege remain detached from what’s happening to black people in neighborhoods across town.

"We’re gonna bring it in your back yard, we’re gonna bring it in your front yard, we are gonna bring it in your neighborhood," she said. "We are going to be heard."

A multiracial crowd of hundreds gathered at Freedom Park before taking to the streets. With two lanes of Queens Road West packed with marchers, it took five and a half minutes for the protesters to pass.

Chanting “hands up, don’t shoot” and “black lives matter,” protesters walked by multi-million dollar homes.

Participants included Panthers players Shaq Thompson and Tre Boston.

"It Has To Stop"

Protests have been going on in Charlotte and across America since Friday night. Dorothy Price of Charlotte, who took part with her husband and two children, was attending her first one.

She says she normally avoids videos of black people being killed by police, but she watched the video of Floyd’s death at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer.

"And I couldn’t sleep," Price said. "I had trouble focusing. It’s been horrendous to imagine dying that way. It’s inhumane. It’s senseless. And it has to stop."

A Bitter Lesson

When the crowd got to the intersection of Queens Road West and Selwyn Avenue, they knelt, raised their fists and called out Floyd’s last words for the nine minutes that video lasted.

A sign at the Justice for George Floyd march lists victims of police violence.
Credit Ann Doss Helms / WFAE

Carl Hall stood on the edges, quietly explaining to his 7-year-old daughter Zoe. Without getting graphic, he told her to imagine what it would feel like being pinned to the ground for this long.

"Imagine how he felt," Hall said. "And he couldn’t get up."

Hall says he always thought his daughter would only learn about historic events in school.

"But to be in a time when you actually can be a part of making history, living history, even though it’s not what we would want to be making history about, I thought it was important for her to have this experience," he said. "And she wanted to come."

Residents React

Ottley, the organizer, says she heard a lot of concerns from Myers Park residents before the march.  But by the time it happened, residents seemed supportive.

Some homeowners stood on the sidewalk and offered waters to protestors. Others sat on their porches drinking wine. Many who were outside clapped and some raised a fist in solidarity.

Debbie George, of Myers Park, came on her bicycle to participate.

“This is important,” George said. “Black lives matter.”

Helen Redwine, who has lived on Selwyn Avenue for 25 years, says she got an email Monday afternoon informing her about the march and she hustled to make a sign saying “White Silence Equals White Consent.

"I feel very passionate about this," she said. "It’s gone on way way too long and people need to stand up. Nothing is going to change unless everyone gets involved."

After about two hours of walking through Myers Park, the crowd returned to Freedom Park and dispersed. Another protest is planned for Tuesday afternoon outside the Government Center.

Helen Redwine shows her support for marchers.
Credit Steve Harrison / WFAE

_