Peaceful protest held in Albemarle over the weekend

Protesters talk to a police officer near the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department-Metro Division station during a rally over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Friday, May 29, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (David T. Foster III/The Charlotte Observer via AP)

ALBEMARLE –– On Saturday, a small crowd of around a dozen people assembled in downtown Albemarle to peacefully protest police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death, an incident that has resulted in protests across the country. 

The protestors met up at the Stanly County Courthouse around noon and made their way to the intersection of East Main and Second Street, the march taking a total of six hours.  

On May 25, Floyd, a 46-year-old black man born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, died under the knee of white Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes.  

An independent autopsy released Monday determined that Floyd’s death was a homicide: “asphyxiation from sustained pressure.” An autopsy released by the state confirmed the findings, while listing other “significant” conditions, like hypertensive heart disease and recent use of fentanyl and methamphetamine. 

Chauvin, along with three other Minneapolis police officers involved in the incident, has been fired from his department. On Friday, he was officially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter of Floyd. 

The Albemarle Police Department addressed Floyd’s death on its Facebook page Monday: “The actions of the officers involved with Mr. Floyd’s death erode the community’s trust in police officers and amplifies the historical divide between the law enforcement profession and marginalized communities,” the post read. 

Albemarle police, along with members of the Albemarle Fire Department, provided food and drinks for the protestors Saturday.  

“It is the Albemarle Police Department’s responsibility to work with the community to eliminate this divide through proper policing and community engagement,” the APD’s statement continued. “The Albemarle Police Department supports our community in demonstrating against the injustice that occurred to George Floyd. Members of the Albemarle Police are committed to enforcing the laws impartially throughout the city, striving for excellence.” 

Stanfield Police Chief Corie Faggert joined the APD in condemning the actions of the Minneapolis officers.  

“What happened to Mr. Floyd is a terrible tragedy,” Faggert wrote in a statement Saturday. “This incident has angered everyone all over the country and rightfully so. There is no doubt that the majority of police officers in this country are angered and disturbed over this incident as well.” 

While the Albemarle protest was successful in holding a nonviolent event, many cities statewide, including Charlotte, Raleigh and Salisbury, saw unrest, looting and violence. 

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper confirmed at a press conference Sunday that 450 members of the National Guard have been activated to assist Charlotte, Raleigh and other cities. 

“Unfortunately, today the headlines are not about those protestors and their calls for serious, meaningful change,” Cooper posted on Twitter Sunday afternoon. “They are more about riots, and tear gas, and broken windows, and stolen property. I fear the cry of the people is being drowned out by the noise of riots.” 

The City of Charlotte’s social media accounts indicated that the National Guard is specifically in Charlotte to assist with COVID-19 response and that there is no plan to deploy the National Guard in response to protests, despite there being 68 protest-related arrests over the weekend.  

“More than 1,500 lawful protesters marched through Uptown Charlotte at 1 p.m. The group expressed their viewpoints lawfully throughout their demonstrations,” the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said in a statement Monday afternoon.  

“Later in the evening, some protesters became violent and began throwing rocks, explosives and other objects at officers, intending to injure the officers who were actively involved in facilitating lawful demonstrations,” the CMPD’s statement continued. “Rioters continued to assault officers, threaten other members of the community and destroy business property throughout the night.” 

Mecklenburg County Chairman George Dunlap and Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles declared a state of emergency for the city on Saturday afternoon, following a night where a Charlotte police cruiser had its tires slashed and the windows of a police department substation were smashed.  

“Let’s work together to ensure that protests remain peaceful and stay focused on building equitable and just cities for all in North Carolina,” Lyles posted on Twitter Sunday. “And we pledge to make every effort within our power to fight systemic racism within our police forces, cities and this nation.”