Following is a lightly edited letter of solidarity from the Charlotte Uprising (charlotteuprising.com) to the disaster-stricken communities of Eastern North Carolina. Activists urge “grassroots organizations and other communities to sign onto this letter by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The Charlotte Uprising Coalition and signatories extend our solidarity with the communities of Eastern North Carolina who are being devastated by the unnatural flooding of Hurricane Matthew. We oppose and condemn the state’s continued environmental racism and the neglect of the Black, Indigenous, Brown, rural and poor white communities for which these issues have heightened impact in Eastern North Carolina.
In Charlotte, we continue to fight for justice for Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old Black man with disabilities killed on Sept. 20 by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. We have received reports that [on Oct. 10], state troopers in Lumberton killed a man amidst the flooding — claiming to have seen him armed with a gun while in water that had risen 3-4 feet high. … [W]e want to uplift the name of Deriante Miller, a 18-year-old Black teen, killed by a state trooper in Kinston as he was leaving his sister’s birthday party. No officer was charged and the department continues to lie about the murder.
The misplaced priorities of our state brought on this disaster. While Gov. Pat McCrory called the National Guard into Charlotte to protect the windows of Bank of America and the Omni Hotel, he also redirected disaster relief funds to defend his anti-trans and anti-worker HB2 law. He has been unable to develop a plan for communities in the East for whom continued flood waters are anticipated. In both scenarios, lives are at risk and stolen because our state does not value Black and Brown lives.
Environmental justice is more than forests and rivers; it encompasses our workplaces, public facilities, neighborhoods and schools. Our environments are under constant threat — if not from climate change, pollution or other climate disasters, then from police, corporations and politicians who prioritize profit and property over human needs.
We believe in the right of historically marginalized communities to determine their destinies and build futures that are free from the violence of climate change, corporate greed and exploitation. We will stand with our community in Eastern North Carolina to reject any attempt made to repress the people’s organizing in response to this crisis; to reject any attempt by the state to use this moment to continue to push through the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline because communities and infrastructure have been wiped out; to reject any attempt to isolate us from each other in the movement for Black lives, working-class people and all oppressed people. The struggle for environmental justice is also a struggle against racism, sexism, homophobia, capitalism, xenophobia and more.
We send our solidarity with the organized communities and the communities getting organized to take care of each other. In Charlotte we have been saying, “We keep us safe,” and in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, nothing could be truer. We say we keep us safe; we say Black Lives Matter; we say our liberation is intertwined; and we say justice for the communities in Eastern North Carolina is long overdue.
Signatories: Trans Queer People of Color Collective Charlotte, Tribe Charlotte, Southern Vision Alliance, Ignite NC, Youth Organizing Institute, NC Environmental Justice Network, Witness For Peace Southeast, Workers World Party, Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia, UE Local 150 NC Public Service Workers Union, The Greensboro Mural Project, Cakalak Thunder, Jewish Voice for Peace-Triangle, Customer 49.