Jonathan Redfern, the Charlotte artist arrested during the September demonstrations while leading a chant of “love, love, love” is now free, free, free.
The Mecklenburg District Attorney’s Office on Friday dropped the misdemeanor charge of failure to disperse. Prosecutor Jennifer Joyner said the chaos surrounding Redfern’s arrest on Sept. 21 made it almost impossible to prove whether Redfern ignored a police order to leave the scene or even if the order was given.
Redfern, 26, did not appear before the judge. Instead, he hugged well-wishers and his attorney Jon Burns in the lobby before leaving the courthouse. He did not immediately return a call from the Observer.
Redfern was among the more than 100 people arrested in the aftermath of the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott – a killing that Mecklenburg prosecutors have ruled justified. Scott’s death set off two days of sometimes violent protests through uptown, which were inflamed further by the Sept. 21 fatal shooting of demonstrator Justin Carr. Police have charged another bystander with Carr’s death; some protestors still hold police accountable for Carr’s killing.
Dozens of defendants still face charges ranging from assault and an array of looting-related crimes. Dozens more faces protest-related charges such as curfew violations and impeding traffic.
Video shows Redfern leading his chant before a line of riot police when an officer bear-hugging Redfern and pulled him behind the wall of other officers. The crime carried up to 60 days in jail.
At his first hearing this year, the artist took a painting to the courthouse that he had done of the Charlotte skyline, which he said had been inspired by the events surrounding his arrest. He said he brought the painting to court because it made him feel safer. He says the artwork captures the beauty and diversity of Charlotte, and gives a glimpse of what he thinks the city can become.
Friday he left the courthouse with a smile on his face, with the same skyline towering above him.