Mecklenburg commissioners show support for protesters, social change

Published: Jun. 3, 2020 at 1:31 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Tuesday night Mecklenburg County Commissioners took time at the end of their meeting to voice their support for the protests in response to the killing of George Floyd.

Commissioners expressed frustration over racial disparities in the justice system and throughout society.

“All of our hearts are heavy from what we’ve witnessed," Commissioner Jerrell said about the death of George Floyd.

“I’m sick of us being back in a space where we’re protesting another tragedy in our country.”

“I’m glad that we’re forced to face ourselves and talk about the systemic institutional structures that perpetuate racism and inequity,” Jerrell said.

“This week has been one of the hardest I’ve experiened as an elected leader,” Commissioner Susan Rodriguez-McDowell said.

“This is where the people have elected us to act on the reforms that we believe in and this is when we live up to our ideals."

Commissioners made several other substantial decisions on developments during the meeting.

- Commissioners approved moving forward with a redevelopment plan for Spirit Square in Uptown. The plan would demolish the Knight Gallery, community meeting space and more. It would create a new pedestrian connection from Tryon to mid-block plaza and would significantly renovate the Duke Energy Theater Facility. The total project cost is $39.5 million.

A rendering of the Spirit Square redevelopment.
A rendering of the Spirit Square redevelopment.(WBTV)

- Commissioner Vilma Leake also made a motion for CMS to come up with a plan to better track achievable goals of graduating students and whether they are gaining meaningful employment or moving onto secondary education. Specifically commissioners agreed that CMS set a goal for the disparity between white, black and brown students for career and college readiness be no greater than 10 percent by 2024. She made a motion to defer withholding $30 million of funding for CMS to December and dependent on CMS coming up with a plan.

- Commissioners approved an affordable housing plan for the Uptown area. Commissioners moved forward with the option of creating 110 affordable units with Inlivian in Uptown and another 581 units offsite.

- COVID-19 trends are going up according to Public Health Director Gibbie Harris. She said hospitals are seeing an increased number of patients but are still operating within their capacity.

- Commissioners officially created a renewal and recovery task force for COVID-19 that would address everything from homelessness to public health to employment.

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