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‘They all must pay’; Local leaders call out what happened at U.S. Capitol

Published: Jan. 7, 2021 at 9:06 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -Two Mecklenburg County commissioners have come together to denounce the attack on the US Capitol.

Commissioners Laura Meier and Mark Jerrell call Wednesday’s attack “shameful and a weak attempt to disguise racism under the cover of outrage.”

“The very first thing I said,” Meier said. “And I said it out loud - if they were Black they’d be dead. I said no Black person would have gotten through those doors. They wouldn’t have gotten up the steps.”

Jerrell says his phone has been ringing off the hook in response to the attack. He says seeing the Confederate flag inside the Capitol was upsetting.

“It’s really steeped in racism,” County Commissioner Mark Jerrell said. “And we have to continue to call it out... Most of my constituents were outraged at what they witnessed yesterday and I stand shoulder to shoulder with them.”

The politician believes if Wednesday’s rioters were Black - things would have turned out differently.

“I think racism is alive and well,” Meier said. “And I think yesterday showed that white people can storm our Capitol and get away with it.”

Jerrell remembers how Blacks were treated during the protests of George Floyd’s death last summer.

“I think it’s safe to say that if there were people of color out there based on what we witnessed over the summer, that we know that the reaction and the responses would have been different, Jerrell said. “And I think on a larger level, that’s really what hurts and that’s really where our frustration is stemming from because we do know for a fact that the response would have been different and, you know, people are really tired of this dual response.”

Charlotte Mecklenburg NAACP President Corine Mack says she remembers how people were treated during the George Floyd protests.

“We were tear-gassed,” Mack said. “Pepper sprayed, chemical weapons used against us. They came out in full force in riot gear, many were arrested.”

Mack says she didn’t see that happen to the rioters who stormed the Capitol.

“They had police hold doors for them as they left the building,” Mack said. “Yes, they were allowed to leave the building. They were not arrested. They were not pepper-sprayed.”

Mack says she is disgusted and hurt and says people who attacked the US Capitol must be held accountable.

“These homegrown terrorists,” Mack said. “They all must pay. They must be held accountable...If that does not happen? Listen to this. If they did it to the Capitol of the United States, they could do it to any State Government, no one is safe. And let me say this to anyone who’s listening, we will not tolerate you doing that in our State of North Carolina, we will not tolerate that.”

Meier and Jerrell say they will do their part to continue the conversation and make a change.

“We have got to continue to look at our policies,” Jerrell said. “Our ordinances, and all the mechanisms that we have in place to provide equity for everyone. We’ve got to level the playing field. We have to make sure that our budget actually reflects our priorities. When we say that we want to tackle injustice and inequity and racism, we have really got to double down and stand behind those things.”

Meier is newly elected to the Mecklenburg County Commission and she says she is ready to get to work.

“We have to talk about this,” she said. And I am tired of tiptoeing around this subject so that we don’t offend white people.”

The community leaders say they will be unified, not give up, and continue to speak up for truth and justice for all.

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