“No more shootings,” John Barnett, founder of True Healing Under God, or T.H.U.G. yelled into the microphone.
“No more blood,” the crowd of more than 100 roared back.
That chant, clearly audible outside Redemption Christian Ministries on 24th Street in Charlotte, came at the end of a rally Sunday that capped a weekend of protests over a mistrial in the voluntary manslaughter trial of Randall “Wes” Kerrick for his 2013 shooting of Jonathan Ferrell. A jury deadlocked Friday in the trial.
It was the second time in five weeks the church had hosted a protest about the Kerrick trial. The first came the night before the trial and was billed as the beginning of finding justice for Ferrell, work that was not complete to those on hand Sunday.
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For more than two hours, the room echoed with applause and shouts as civil rights activists, clergy members and the families of people fatally shot by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police took their turns at the microphone, demanding a retrial for Kerrick and denouncing use of lethal force by police and what they called police racism.
Family members of Janisha Fonville, Aaron Winchester and Devaron Wilborn all spoke of the pain they had experienced from the killings and how they felt there were alternatives to CMPD officers taking the lives of their loved ones. Each family had pictures of their children.
“I’m going to make sure another mother doesn’t have to walk in our shoes,” said Candice Greene, Wilborn’s stepmother.
Six local activists and religious leaders signed a letter to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper asking for a retrial of Kerrick. The letter said, in part, that the lack of a verdict “has ... torn the threads of diversity in the city of Charlotte,” and they said many people are outraged at the mistrial.
Corey Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam, said the city is hurting and that, sometimes, people need to demand justice through organized activism. “The greatest weapon we can sound is the cannon of unity,” Muhammad said.
Outrage was palpable Sunday evening each time someone took the microphone. Angry shouts rang out each time a speaker talked about how the dash cam in Kerrick’s police cruiser was turned off, so what would have been critical evidence was not available.
There were titters when speakers asked why recently retired CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe never testified in the trial. “Where did the mystery man (Monroe) go?” Barnett asked.
It won’t be an easy road to a retrial, Barnett said, and it isn’t guaranteed, but the the work for justice isn’t done regardless of what happens in court, he said.
Most, but not all, of the speakers and people at the church Sunday were black.
Jessi Nakamura, who identifies as white and is a member of activist group NYC Shut It Down, took the microphone and listed a series of facts about the police shootings and the Kerrick trial.
She said police kill people of all colors but most are “black or brown,” and that’s something people of all races can no longer ignore. That should be brought to the attention of white people, Nakamura said.
“It’s time for White America to be uncomfortable.”
March on Charlotte, Sept. 14 at Marshall Park. Protesters should arrive 6:10 p.m. and it will begin at 7:10 p.m.
A Twitter account, @justiceforjonf, and Willie Ferrell, Ferrell’s brother, took to Twitter asking people to sign an online petition demanding a retrial: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/justice-for-jonathan-ferrell.