500 signatures reached
To: Residents of City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County
Restorative Justice CLT Call to Action
"I can't breathe." It is time for Charlotte and the rest of America to listen to the dying words of George Floyd and Eric Garner. Let us be clear about George Floyd's death: this was a public, blatant lynching for all the world to see. The lynching of George Floyd is another reminder in a long list of reminders that African Americans are under attack and being murdered every single day in America. Just four years after the murder of Keith Lamont Scott and our own uprising in Charlotte, the upward mobility crisis continues to impact Black communities.
Wealth must be decolonized and racism must be dismantled in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. We ask for support and share the following actionable items:
1. We call on the Mayor, City Council, County Commissioners of Mecklenburg County, to present a plan to examine and address the decolonizing of wealth and the dismantling of racism in Charlotte. We seek action specifically in the sectors of land, business, and criminal justice. This includes immediate action regarding ongoing gentrification and displacement, an evaluation of policing in the time since the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, and a commitment to engage with the transformative practice of restorative justice.
2. According to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., rioting is the voice of the unheard. There are uprisings in 30 or more cities with the National Guard deployed in 13 states. We call upon the Mayor and County Commissioners to declare racism towards the African American community a State of Emergency.
3. George Floyd died in Minneapolis, a city perceived as progressive while having entrenched systemic racism - Charlotte could be similarly described. Four years ago we learned that the “well of opportunity" in Charlotte runs dry when we ranked 50th out of 50th in upward mobility. We call upon the architects of the Leading on Opportunities initiative to provide an accounting of monies raised and spent on this initiative. Where are we now after four years and millions raised?
4. Charlotte is the second largest banking center in the US, ranked only after New York City. Money flows here, and yet progress for longtime-residents displaced from Brooklyn and other parts of Uptown remains stagnant. We call on the Charlotte banking and corporate business industries to fund in tangible and new ways the decolonizing of wealth and the dismantling of racism in Charlotte. This includes funding and doing the capacity building necessary for African American run non-profit organizations and Black-owned small businesses. We ask that the banking industry in Charlotte provide a public report outlining its plan and success or lack thereof in one year.
5. We recognize the need for marginalized people to have increased access to public officials to shift the focus and pathways of institutionalized power. We call on the ten largest local nonprofits to utilize 20% of their advocacy budgets to lobby specifically on the issues of decolonizing wealth and dismantling racism in Charlotte, and in one year release public reports outlining outcomes and impact on directly affected groups.
6. Financially support Restorative Justice CLT.
Restorative Justice CLT is a vital part of the solution for these problems. For the past fourteen months we have been holding listening sessions and building a broad-based coalition of countywide organizations. The Restorative Justice Fund is based on the six priorities established by the Black community during town hall meetings over the past year. The Fund will be used for restorative measures to accelerate upward mobility and healing for disadvantaged African Americans in Charlotte. Designations will include support of restorative measures in the areas of education, faith communities, business, housing (anti-displacement, land values and ownership), criminal justice, and mental health.
Why is this important?
In Charlotte and Mecklenburg County there has been a historical pattern of institutionalized racism, a system enabled by both neglect and ignorance. In just the past three months, these disparities have been unveiled again by COVID-19. Our history, which is often hidden in favor of presenting a Charlotte of the “New South,” shows that the powers who contributed to the neglect continue to control the funding to correct issues they themselves fomented. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., described the white moderate as someone who “paternalistically believes [they] can set the timetable for another man's freedom," and who says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action.” White and non-Black moderates with the power to make a difference indirectly participate in the physical, spiritual, psychological, and economic death of Black communities by refusing to engage with this history. Furthermore, we believe the institutional power in Charlotte has had its knee on the neck of African Americans tracing from slavery, to the destruction of Brooklyn, to the gentrification of Black and brown communities today. We can no longer stand a system designed to appease, pacify, and bend to white supremacy.
Myers Park Baptist Church has supported this initiative with a $20,000 founding gift. Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Benjamin Boswell, remarked: "I am so proud that Myers Park Baptist Church is not content to proclaim ‘Black Lives Matter’ or speak for racial justice, but has decided to actively participate in the decolonizing of wealth and the dismantling of racism by redistributing our resources through Restorative Justice CLT. We invite other people of faith and good conscience, churches, denominations, and foundations to join us in making a financial commitment to eliminate white supremacy and restore justice in the city of Charlotte."
We reaffirm that Black lives matter everywhere and call for accountability and action in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.