Thursday, September 29, 2016

Weekend Curfew? That’s New

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 11:59 AM

The past few days in the Queen City have been interesting, to say the least. The death of Keith Lamont Scott, a black male, at the hands of CMPD last Tuesday sparked #BlackLivesMatter protests throughout the city.

The #BlackLivesMatter movement was officially established in 2012 — following the acquittal of George Zimmerman who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old black male — in an effort to bring issues such as racial injustice, inequality and police brutality to the forefront of conversation. Last week, Charlotte brought the conversation back.

On Wednesday afternoon, a protest was scheduled for Uptown. Given the current social climate and media attention surrounding similar protests, many businesses, particularly in the Uptown area, made the decision to the let their employees leave early. As I stepped outside of my office and prepared to relocate I could feel the tension rising as Charlotteans piled into the light rail and police officers stationed themselves in front of buildings.

After receiving multiple texts from friends and family later on that night asking if I was okay and staying out of trouble, I knew that the protests had taken a turn for the worst. The next morning we were asked to work from home, learned that businesses in the EpiCentre had racked up damages and were alerted that the National Guard was on its way. That night, a curfew of 12 a.m. was instituted and would carry into the weekend.

After wrapping up work on Friday and welcoming my boyfriend home earlier than usual, we pondered on what we do. After all, neither one of us have navigated Charlotte nightlife under these circumstances, or had a curfew in a really long time. The football team he coaches had just won a season opener and our plan was to celebrate. But when we started to compile a list of places to go we became frustrated.

If we did go out, where would we go? Would the “riots” be the focus of every conversation? Would we want to have that conversation with every person, friend or foe, that we encountered? How quickly could we get from one place to another and make it home before curfew?
(Disclaimer: My boyfriend and I both have personal convictions about the events going on in our city and across the nation. Our commitment to enjoying the weekend in spite of, was in no way a dismissal. We were simply seeking opportunities to celebrate community instead of focusing our entire weekend on negative energy that wouldn’t fix the problems we all face.)

We decided to hit up a high school football game. Shortly before halftime, I was ready to leave. My hope was that we would leave the game, head straight to a bar, drink early and get home before 12 a.m. Later we were alerted that breweries, clubs and bars were closing early. We opted for a bottle of wine and $40 worth of snacks at a convenience store.

The following day and night was a complete wash. My boyfriend and I slept all day and the next thing you know, it was already curfew time. So we focused our energy on actually making something happen for Sunday Funday and yet another Panthers game. Again, we weighed our options. Head Uptown and deal with protest talk and crowded bars or stay close to home? The latter, seemed like a better idea.

I’ve mentioned Blue Olive Lounge before, but this time there was free food. I wasn’t even hungry, but I knew this was the best option for watching the game. We scored some Indian cuisine and mac and cheese. Talk about a killer combo! Not to mention, I made friends with some bar-goers and scored a slice of pizza, too. After a disappointing loss and only a couple drinks, I was tempted to keep the party going but followed my instincts and called it a night.

As I walked from the light rail to work on Monday morning, I went through the EpiCentre passing boarded storefronts — the aftermath of the actions of a small faction of protesters in Charlotte. I thought, ‘weekend number one of Q.C. social change is in the books.’

Regardless of your perspective on the social unrest in the Charlotte community, navigating the nightlife scene under these circumstances is very interesting, especially considering we have no real idea how long the protests will last.

How and where did you unwind after a long week given the current environment?

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