450 national guardsman activated after Charlotte, Raleigh request assistance during George Floyd protests
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - What started off as peaceful protests for justice turned violent in many cities across North Carolina.
For the past two days, Charlotte, and other cities throughout the state, were protesting following the death of an unarmed black man at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
Former police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested Friday after he knelt on the neck of George Floyd, who was handcuffed at the time. Floyd was heard in a video says, “I can’t breathe,” before he died.
In response, riots erupted, fires were set, restaurants and stores had their windows broken into and stores were looted.
Also, law enforcement officers and emergency responders were pelted with rocks and bottles.
Protests were organized in Charlotte, and throughout the state, this weekend.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper addressed the protests Sunday afternoon while businesses and communities are left cleaning up the mess.
“I fear the cry of the people is being drowned out by the noise of the riots,” Cooper said. “People are more important than property. Black lives do matter.”
Cooper said he spoke with the mayors of Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro and Fayetteville, and that their requests for state support in the form of the state highway patrol, SBI and National Guard soldiers are being fulfilled.
Cooper said he is deploying 450 National Guardsman in response to the protests.
However, the city of Charlotte tweeted this is not true.
WBTV News has reached out to the governor’s office for clarification.
“Our National Guardsman are available upon request of local governments. I believe that right now, we have requests from Charlotte and from Raleigh for assistance,” Cooper said. “Some of these Guardsmen are trained in how to protect public structures and that is how they will be used. These are our citizens who have been activated.”
While Cooper condemns the actions of the Minnesota officer, he reiterates that violence and riots are not the answer.
“Many brought their children with them to show to the importance of calling for action,” Cooper said. “Unfortunately, today, the headlines are not about those protesters and their cause for serious meaningful change. They are more about riots and tear gas and broken windows and stolen property. That’s wrong and must be stopped.”
Cooper said he spoke on the phone on Saturday to Floyd’s sister, Bridgett, who lives in Hoke County, North Carolina.
He assured her that the state will do everything it can to work for justice in Floyd’s honor.
“While I cannot bring her brother back, I can work for justice in his name,” Cooper said. “I’ve assured her that’s what we will do.”
Cooper said that riots and violence are not ways to demonstrate justice.
The governor said there was a pattern in some cities.
Peaceful protests, with chanting and sign-holding, were demonstrated during the afternoon.
However, a crowd shifted at nighttime, and the scene became violent.
“Protests and demonstrations held earlier in the day, that remained focused and powerful and non-violent, then as night set in, a different crowd shifted in with a more aggressive and disruptive display,” Cooper said.
Cooper took to Twitter early Sunday to weigh in on the George Floyd protests that have taken place in North Carolina cities, and across the country, over the past several nights.
“I am in continuing contact with Emergency Management leaders about violence occurring in some of our cities,” Cooper tweeted. “Frustrating that planned peaceful protests about real systemic racism are marred. I am grateful for those seeking justice peacefully.”
Floyd died May 25 in a neighborhood south of Minneapolis, Minnesota, after a white officer was seen kneeling on his neck for more than eight minutes.
The officer, Derek Chauvin, has since been charged with third-degree and second-degree manslaughter in his death.
“George Floyd and so many others should be alive right now,” Cooper posted on Twitter.
Floyd’s death spurred protests throughout Charlotte the past two nights, resulting in several arrests.
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