CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Dozens of people marched and protested Friday evening after jail supporters say they were cleared out by Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s deputies earlier in the day.
Protesters chanted, “Jail Support Matters.”
Deputies say five people were arrested and charged with criminal trespass earlier Friday from the “jail support” encampment outside of the Mecklenburg County Detention Center.
The Mecklenburg County sheriff’s office says for several weeks a group of people has been in the encampment on 4th street near the detention center and county courthouse. The sheriff’s office alleges people affiliated with the “jail support” operation have harassed and intimidated people in the area, littering, and one at least two occasions committed sex crimes against nature on public property.
Activists with the jail support service have denied the allegations.
Leaders and volunteers have said jail support is a movement that provides stations for clothes, food, temporary housing and transportation for anyone who has been in the jail.
“Jail support as multiple sources has indicated, all these groups out here, everyone is saying the same thing,” a jail supporter said. “It’s a de-escalation space. A space where organizers can maintain a safe and organized process and get people homes, food, transportation, bus passes, someone to talk to. Anyone can roll up at jail support.”
Since the June protests in Charlotte over the death of George Floyd, the station has grown and jail support now operates nearly 24 hours a day.
The group also provides bail money and legal services to people arrested during protests against racism and police violence.
In a statement, Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden said, "I have always been a champion of the residents of our detention centers as they re-enter society. Many of these citizens need and deserve assistance to secure even the very basics.
“If this is, as it should be, what defines jail support, then I am all for it. But this fine concept of “Jail Support” was sadly hijacked by a number of the individuals who became regulars at the encampment on 4th Street and who had a different agenda.”