Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: No Charges for CMPD Officer; Racist Letters to CLT Leaders

No charges will be filed for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police officer who shot Danquirs Franklin at a Charlotte Burger King back in March. District Attorney Spencer Merriweather announced on Wednesday that Officer Wende Kerl will not face charges in connection with Franklin’s death.

Many black elected officials in Charlotte- including the mayor- received a racist letter this week that was addressed to city council, the county commission, police, fire and CMS School Board. The letter was directed to black Democrats and said that they should be “tarred and feathered and run out of town.” We’ll talk about reaction to the letter by several local leaders.

New CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston has a 3-year contract, which was announced earlier this month. But this week, school board members clarified that Winston could be fired with 60 days’ notice without giving a reason, making his job security not quite as strong as once thought. We’ll talk about what board chair Mary McCray said about it.

And an update on the push to pass a quarter-cent sales tax vote for the arts in Mecklenburg County.

Guests:

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com and WCCB

Katie Peralta, reporter for Charlotte Agenda

David Boraks, reporter for WFAE 

Jonathan Lowe, reporter for Spectrum News 

The lessons of Toni Morrison: Words matter, now more than ever

OPINION — “Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names.”

Of course, that language from Toni Morrison perfectly suits this time, when the names we give the things that scare us hardly seem enough.

It is fitting that in a week when America has been exposed to the words of a white nationalist screed shared before a man filled with hate murdered 22 human beings in El Paso, Texas, we can find some comfort in Morrison’s life and legacy, and in the power of words used masterfully by the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

America’s Way Forward After Mass Shootings

CHARLOTTE, NC — President Trump is heading to El PasoTexas, and DaytonOhio, after shootings left a total of 31 dead. His official message this week decried violence and white supremacy, but many also criticized his own divisive words. The division between politicians and parties continues on the best way forward and the reasons for the carnage. Is it guns, racism, mental illness, video games, or a combination?

Is a blue city in a purple state having second thoughts about hosting a red convention?

OPINION — CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When the Democratic National Convention hit town in 2012, the dancing traffic cop made headlines for his smooth moves and entertaining approach to law enforcement. The officer captured the party atmosphere of that event, leading up to the renomination of no-drama President Barack Obama for a second term.

City leaders and residents now look back at that time with nostalgia as they prepare for the Republican National Convention coming to town from Aug. 24-27 next year to renominate a president who is all drama, all the time — as chants of “Send her back” at a Trump rally in Greenville, North Carolina, earlier this month have reminded everyone of exactly what’s at stake.

Anticipating the economic and related benefits for the city after it was chosen by the GOP last year, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tom Murray said, “Charlotte has the collaboration, infrastructure and hospitality that will make the 2020 RNC an unforgettable experience for its attendees.”

Now, some are worrying about just how unforgettable the experience will be.

Will America ‘go back’ to where it came from?

OPINION — It’s an inside joke I’ve told the last couple of years.

My ancestors on both sides have been in America for generations — men, women and children whose blood, sweat and grit drenched the Maryland soil they cultivated and farmed and lived on. Originally brought by force, they claimed their place proudly and served the country’s ideals admirably. In contrast, my husband, second generation to these shores, on both sides, is an American-come-lately. But because his grandfather sailed into New York harbor on a ship that set off from Kristiansand, Norway, he is our president’s dream (Scandinavian) citizen.

I’m not laughing at that punch line anymore, not when Donald Trump has shown how sincerely he believes that belonging is automatic for some and conditional for others. It has never been clearer that the president of the United States considers some Americans more worthy of respect and consideration and legitimacy than others, and how he draws that line is as simple as black and white.

Opinion: The Language of Diplomacy, Democracy — and Division

“He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured,” then long-shot candidate Donald Trump saidin 2015 of Sen. John McCain’s service and time as a prisoner after his plane was shot down by North Vietnamese troops in 1967. It was a quote that many thought would end Trump’s White House dreams.

That it did not slow the Trump train was a clear sign that something fundamental was broken in America’s definition of what it means to be a patriot.

Does Obama’s presidency improve the lives of everyday African Americans?

‘The weird sort of ironic reality is it might be easier for America to elect Barack Obama to get that job than it is for a lot of other people of color just to get a job managing a department store,’ says white anti-racism author and activist Tim Wise.