CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Dozens of people marched through uptown Charlotte Sunday evening protesting and blocking traffic.
Local organizations organized a rally to let their voices heard in an effort to stop racism and police brutality.
The leader of the group “Seeking Justice” told WBTV the march was to protest against racism.
The march started around 6 p.m. First Ward Park and continued to Tryon Street, where the Black Lives Matter mural was painted, and down to Romare Bearden Park.
This rally comes as closing arguments in the Derek Chauvin trial are set to start. Chauvin is the former Minneapolis police officer accused of kneeling on the neck of George Floyd until he died in May 2020.
Closing arguments are expected to start on Monday and a verdict in the trial could be determined as early as this week.
“The message is we’re just warming up because when this verdict hits, we’re going to hit the streets,” activist Kass Ottley said.
Protesters on Sunday walked the streets chanting “George Floyd” and “Daunte Wright,” a 20-year-old Black male who was killed by a police officer outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
With the world watching Chauvin’s trial, Ottley feels Floyd’s death is similar to the 2013 shooting of Jonathan Ferrell, who was shot and killed by a now-former CMPD officer.
The trial ended with a hung jury and the state declined to seek a retrial. The city eventually settled a lawsuit with Ferrell’s family.
“We saw this before with Jonathan Ferrell,” said Ottley, with Seeking Justice CLT. “We saw how this family got the civil suit during jury selection. We saw how Jonathan Ferrell was criminalized and brought on trial just like how George Floyd is. We saw how it ended in a mistrial, so yeah, we’re watching this one because it’s going to be very different.”
Floyd’s death, along with the shooting of Jacob Blake and the death of Breonna Taylor, among others at the hands of police officers, sparked protests across the nation, including in Charlotte, last summer. Many of the protests turned violent as angry mobs clashed with police officers.
Organizers say Sunday’s protests are for victims of racial profiling and violence by police officers.
“We wanted to speak on racism across the board with these hate crimes, officers getting beat up, kids walking through neighborhoods being accosted, it’s just too much going,” Ottley said.
Wright was shot and killed during a traffic stop in a suburb of Minneapolis. The Brooklyn Center police chief said officer Kim Potter, who has since resigned and been charged, meant to use a taser on Wright rather than a shotgun.
Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old Mexican American, was killed by police officers in Chicago. The police officer’s body camera footage was released, showing Toledo dropping a handgun moments before turning to the police and raising his hands unarmed, immediately prior to being killed.