Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Lunch Break (10/19/16): Charlotte Uprising organizer turns self in after press conference in Uptown

Posted By on Wed, Oct 19, 2016 at 11:45 AM

click to enlarge Ashley Williams addresses media at a Charlotte Uprising press conference this morning. - RYAN PITKIN
  • Ryan Pitkin
  • Ashley Williams addresses media at a Charlotte Uprising press conference this morning.

Gloria Merriweather, a core organizer with the Charlotte Uprising, turned themself in at the Mecklenburg County Jail this morning on charges of felony inciting a riot and misdemeanor assault on a government official stemming from their involvement in protests following the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in September by a CMPD officer. 

Merriweather called the charges "ridiculous," but said they look forward to exonerating themself in court. 

"We have to show them that there are elements that we do control in this, that we will not just be persecuted, that we’re not just here making all this noise for nothing, that we’re actually standing for something," Merriweather said. "If that means I have to turn myself in to an unjust system to start a trial to exonerate myself, that’s exactly what I’m going to do." 

Merriweather said protesters have been searching themselves on warrant databases since some other protesters were taken by surprise by police at home or, in one protester's experience, while finishing a hiking trip. Merriweather became aware of the new charges against them on Friday, and spent the weekend preparing for this morning. 

"I can’t tell how hard it was over the weekend to prepare myself to go into what really for us is the lion’s den," Merriweather said. "The police department doesn’t protect our interests, it doesn’t protect our people, so willingly choosing to walk into this space to get a process started that will free us, that was a really tough thing to come to terms with. I’m 24 years old. A lot of people think we’re these seasoned veterans, but we’re just people who imagine a world that’s different than what we’re living in." 

Other speakers addressed those in attendance outside of the jail this morning, including Charlotte Uprising organizer Ashley Williams, who reiterated the group's list of demands, including the immediate demilitarization of the police department and its eventual defunding, as well as the release of all those arrested in connection with the protests. 

Protesters also continued to pledge their support to Rayquan Borum, who has been charged with the murder of Justin Carr, killed during protests in Uptown on September 21. Most within the Charlotte Uprising, including those like Merriweather who were standing within feet of Carr, believe Borum is being framed for Carr's murder and that the police are responsible for his death. In court, prosecutors have stated that Borum has confessed to the crime. 

Speakers at this morning's press conference included other protesters who have been arrested during or since the protests and have since been released. Michael Johnson spoke about her experience since being released from jail. 

"The trauma that I still face after has impacted my life, it’s impacted my job, it’s impacted every aspect of who I am," Johnson said. "Since then, every time I see an officer, there’s just this bubbling feeling, there’s a feeling of fear. I have a flight reflex, I want to run. I shouldn’t have to fear for my life, when you have an institution of people who are supposed to protect you." 

Following the press conference, Merriweather approached the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office Arrest Processing Center while still addressing the media, as can be seen in the video below, before entering the building with their lawyer. 

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