About 60 gather in Charlotte’s square for protest

About 60 people chanted, carried signs and conducted a “die-in” Saturday afternoon in uptown Charlotte, protesting against a legal system they said has allowed police to mistreat young black men across the United States.

The Day of Resistance demonstration was peaceful, with no sign of police presence, save for a solitary Charlotte-Mecklenburg police patrol car responding to a vehicle collision nearby.

For more than an hour, the protesters chanted “no justice, no peace” and “hands up, don’t shoot,” as part of a nationwide effort calling attention to police-involved deaths of black men in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City. Protests were also set for other North Carolina towns.

“We just promoted this on social media, and it grew from there,” said Darace Barnes, 26, of Charlotte. “As a black man with a 3-year-old son, I want him to know he matters.”

Barnes and Camille Masunda of Charlotte organized the rally, which drew a racially mixed group of mostly young participants.

The protesters did not stop traffic from moving but lined Trade and Tryon streets when traffic signals were red. Occasionally, a passing motorist honked a horn and shouted or waved support.

“I’m here because I believe what is happening is an outrage,” said Ivan Ferrette Jr., 16, a Charlotte high school student. “Somebody has to speak up.”

Margaret Wittman, 26, of Charlotte, said she is a former public school teacher who wanted to set an example for young people.

“This is not just an issue for people of color,” said Wittman, who is white. “It’s important for everyone, because it involves basic issues of justice.”

Passers-by watched with curiosity, and a few people joined protesters when they raised their hands during the “hands up, don’t shoot” chant.

Ivanna Campbell, a Charlotte resident accompanied by four children, was uptown to see Christmas decorations. She said she explained to the children what was taking place, adding, “I support what they’re doing.”

After about an hour, protesters gathered on the southeast side of the square and conducted a “die-in.” The rally ended a short time later, with Barnes telling the group that more protests will be planned.

“We’re just hoping the message gets across,” said protester Tasha Jones, 35, of Charlotte. “We are part of a nationwide effort.”

Related stories from Charlotte Observer