Belton Platt gives powerful speech as he’s named leader of effort to reduce violence in Charlotte

It was an emotional speech for Platt, who took his experiences with him on his way to building a life as a motivational speaker, mentor, chaplain, author, restaurateur and community activist.
Belton Platt bared his soul in an emotional and powerful speech as he was named the site supervisor for the Alternatives to Violence program in Charlotte.
Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 4:13 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2021 at 5:21 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Belton Platt spoke, baring his soul in an emotional and powerful moment as he was named the site supervisor for the Alternatives to Violence program in Charlotte.

Serving as a leader, Platt will oversee a team of violence interrupters who will be tasked with mediating and reducing violent crime in the Beatties Ford Road corridor.

The ATV team will also include community engagement representatives who will help build trust and relationships with community members.

Platt, who is a Charlotte native, gave a speech, detailing his life journey from the more than two decades he spent in prison for drug distribution and other crimes to tragically losing three sons to gun violence.

It was an emotional speech for Platt, who took his experiences with him on his way to building a life as a motivational speaker, mentor, chaplain, author, restaurateur and community activist.

“35 years ago, this man was in the courtroom right across the street, charged with seven counts with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious bodily injury. Two years after that, I was charged with conspiracy to distribute with the distribution of cocaine and stealing and converting to use government property,” Platt said.

In Sept. 2018, Platt was the inspiration behind a book written by Pam Kelley titled “Money Rock: A Family’s Story of Cocaine, Race, and Ambition in the New South”.

The book was written about Platt, described as a “young, charismatic, and Charlotte’s flashiest coke dealer.”

The summary describes the book as follows: “This gripping tale, populated with characters both big-hearted and flawed, shows how social forces and public policies—racism, segregation, the War on Drugs, mass incarceration—help shape individual destinies.”

Platt spoke to his old “Money Rock” alias and his troubles with the law in his past life during Tuesday’s speech.

“Both times when I was tried I was tried as Belton “Money Rock” Platt. I was a major drug dealer in the city of Charlotte. Everybody wanted me off the streets of Charlotte because of the things I did in my past life,” Platt said.

Holding back tears, Platt emotionally thanked his mother Carrie Graves for praying for him and believing in him throughout his life. He also thanked his wife, family, Charlotte City Council and the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners.

“Thank you mother - for praying for me, for believing in me and getting me here to this lectern today. I appreciate you. I thank my wife and my family and all the city officials, county officials that actually encouraged me to move forward in this position,” Platt said.

The City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County announced Belton Platt as site supervisor for Alternatives to Violence.

He talked about traumatic experiences in his life that affected him as a child growing up and may have led to decisions he made in his younger life.

“I have blood in this - at the age of five I watched my dad trying to murder my mother right in front of me. At that time, no one understood what took place, and that five-year-old boy that was standing in that door wanting to help his mother. No one understood the trauma that I experienced that day, the hurt, the pain that I experienced that day,” Platt said.

Platt also talked about the lives of his three sons that were lost to violent crime and how he believes a program like the Alternatives to Violence program could have helped not only him, but his sons as well.

“Growing up and going to school, they didn’t understand that teenager that was angry and mad, that was hardened, that was hurt, that was confused because I didn’t have a program like the alternative to violence program,” Platt said. “My sons - three of them died while I was in prison - there was no program.”

Platt says he believes these programs could help in communities torn apart with violent crime.

“I believe with all of my heart that if we had something in place. I would call home from prison and ask my mother to get my boys into counseling, get him a mentor, get him in the program,” Platt said. “And all three of them died. That’s why I say I have blood in this. I believe people can change.”

Platt said it will take hard work, determination and the committed help of the community to make a change and have a positive influence in reducing violence in Charlotte neighborhoods.

“We are men up here that have changed our lives for the better. Each one of them knows that these positions that we have, we are putting our lives at stake,” Platt said. “So it’s gonna take everybody coming together to make a difference in this city and make sure this initiative that we’re launching today it be successful. We cannot do it alone, we need your help, we need every citizen here in the city of Charlotte. It’s gonna take all of us working together with blood, sweat and tears to make this initiative successful.”

“I am excited to lead the ATV team in launching the program in the Beatties Ford/LaSalle area. As a native Charlottean, I see this as an excellent opportunity to be a part of the solution in making Beatties Ford Rd, and Charlotte as a whole, a safer place for everyone,” Platt said.

The Alternatives to Violence program is part of the city’s SAFE Charlotte initiative which includes violence interruption, hospital-based violence intervention and $1 million in grants to local community-based organizations. The SAFE Charlotte initiative also includes pathways to employment and affordable housing.

In May, WBTV reported on the city and county’s partnership with Cure Violence Global and Youth Advocate Programs, with launching the ATV program in the Beatties Ford area.

The program will employ violence interrupters and outreach workers to connect with the people who are at the highest risk for perpetrating or becoming a victim of, violent crime, talk to them about the costs of violence and help them to obtain the social services they need such as job training and drug treatment.

The city and county will launch the program with a community festival, QC Fest, on Saturday, August 14 at Northwest School of the Arts from noon to 6 p.m.

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