A Sunday peace rally and a Thursday call to action are on tap as Charlotte grapples with a difficult summer and braces for a police shooting trial.
Sunday’s rally at Freedom Park, titled “Arms Around Charlotte,” aims to unite Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and the community groups they’ve been meeting with since the September 2013 shooting of Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed black man, by a white officer. The rally is sponsored by the N.C. Local Barbers Association, which has teamed with police for a series of “Cops and Barbers” town hall meetings.
Randall Kerrick, accused of voluntary manslaughter in Ferrell’s death, is slated to go on trial July 20.
Officer-involved killings in Baltimore, New York, North Charleston, S.C., and Ferguson, Mo., have made international headlines and sparked protests in recent months. The rally is designed to encourage Charlotte groups to unite for peaceful protest and avert destruction.
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The June shooting deaths of nine people in Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church heightened the emotion in Charlotte and across the country around race relations. A 21-year-old white supremacist has been charged.
Hundreds have come together in various Charlotte forums to mourn and talk about ongoing racial issues.
On Thursday, Sanctuary Charlotte Church is hosting a forum called “From Words To Actions,” hoping to create an interfaith alliance committed to doing more than talk.
“The goal of this forum is to first have an open and substantive dialogue about racism, institutional racism and the residual effects of social injustice. We will use this shared experience to galvanize a solution-based movement that looks to the past but also embraces the future of direct action and social change,” a statement from the organizers says.
Meanwhile, an ongoing series of community conversations launched by MeckMin in the aftermath of the Charleston shootings has been drawing 150 to 300 people a week. The gatherings will continue through the summer, and organizers are aware that the Kerrick trial may shape participants’ concerns.
Danny Trapp, executive director of the interfaith group, said personal relationships and group actions may emerge from the talks, but the conversations themselves have value.
“I would argue we haven’t had enough of the words to take action,” he said.
From Words to Action
▪ What: Forum to organize an interfaith, interracial coalition to engage in “direct action” against racism and injustice.
▪ Who: Hosted by Sanctuary Charlotte Church. Speakers from Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP, Charlotte Muslim community and Center City Church.
▪ When: 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, July 9.
▪ Where: Sanctuary Church, 11301 Granite St.
▪ Details: www.sanctuarycharlotte.org
Arms Around Charlotte
▪ What: Unity and peace rally.
▪ Who: Hosted by N.C. Local Barbers Association, working with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
▪ When: 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 12.
▪ Where: Freedom Park bandshell, 1900 East Boulevard.
We Need To Talk
▪ What: Ongoing community conversation “for healing and change.”
▪ Who: Hosted by MeckMin interfaith group.
▪ When: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays through Aug. 31.
▪ Where: Alternates between Myers Park Presbyterian Church and Johnson C. Smith University.
▪ Details: www.meckmin.org/we-need-to-talk