From New York to Los Angeles and other cities in between, activists came out on Oct. 4 to show solidarity with the Charlotte Uprising and to echo its demands for justice and an end to racist police brutality and killings.
Many of these actions centered on Bank of America locations, highlighting the role BOA plays as part of the ruling elite in Charlotte, which supports the police in its repression of the people, especially Black and Brown people. The city is known as the “Wall Street of the South.” The latest outrage was the videotaped murder of Keith Lamont Scott by Charlotte cops on Sept. 20 and the ensuing repression of the community that rose up in rebellion after Scott’s killing. The police murder of protester Justin Carr on Sept. 21 intensified the rebellion. Arrest warrants for 95 people have been issued.
People gathered in front of Bank of America in Center City Philadelphia to show solidarity with the Charlotte Uprising. The rally, called by Workers World Party, demanded justice for Scott and Carr, as well as other demands of the Charlotte Uprising. Speaking for WWP, Mike Wilson emphasized the urgency of defending the Charlotte Uprising as well as the growing threat of police repression against Black Lives Matter organizers across the country. Many speakers connected Bank of America’s racism and exploitation to the police murder of Scott and Carr. Activists from the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice and the Brown and Black Workers Collective, as well as other forces, spoke at the spirited rally. Showing their real role in society, the police closed the bank during the protest and brought in hundreds of officers to protect the financial institution.
In Detroit, activists are very familiar with protesting at Bank of America. BOA, along with its former subsidiary Countrywide Loans, was a major predatory lender that caused the destruction of Detroit’s neighborhoods in the subprime mortgage disaster which began in earnest in 2007. This deliberately racist scheme targeted Black and Latinx homeowners, women and seniors across the country. Detroit lost one-quarter of its residents because of the actions of BOA and other financial institutions. The Moratorium Now! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs; MECAWI (Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice); and FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together) called the protest and demanded BOA stop its support of racist killer cops.
In Port Huron, Mich., about an hour north of Detroit, revolutionary youth organized a demonstration in solidarity with the Charlotte Uprising. The protest was coverage by the Times Herald, the local newspaper, causing a racist backlash from many readers. The youth vow to remain strong.
With only hours’ notice, Buffalo, N.Y., activists gathered to show support for #CharlotteUprising protesters and to demand justice for Scott, Carr and the ever-growing number of those murdered by police. The demonstration was held in front of Bank of America in the city’s busiest shopping area. Cars honked almost continuously in solidarity as the group chanted, “No justice, no peace, no racist police!” and handed out leaflets on the repression of Charlotte protesters and BOA’s role. Activists reported the protest received good television coverage on Time Warner Cable News.
In downtown Roanoke, Va., mostly Black and Brown youth protested at City Market. Standing their ground against continual police harassment, youth hoisted a banner declaring “Roanoke to Charlotte: Stop Killing Black People.” Numerous passersby joined the protest. In February Roanoke County police shot 18-year-old Kionte Spencer multiple times. To date, no dash-cam video or the officers’ names of who killed Spencer have been released to the public.
For over an hour, the protesters at City Market raised up the names of Spencer, Scott, Carr and others killed by police and demanded justice. Leaflets describing how supporters of the Charlotte Uprising can help that struggle were distributed to many participants and passersby. Other demands included living-wage jobs and money for real community resources, not for police and jails. After the protest, a banner drop took place over Interstate 581.
People took to the streets of Harlem, N.Y., in solidarity with the uprising in Charlotte to demand an end to repression against protesters and justice for Scott and Carr. Following a rally at the Harlem State Office Building on 125th Street, protesters marched, zig-zagging through police lines to seize the streets and spread their message throughout the neighborhood: “What do we want? Justice! If we don’t get it? Shut it down!” Onlookers and motorists cheered and honked their horns in solidarity. At one point, New York Police Department goons tried to ram protesters with their motorcycles. Thanks to the discipline and street tactics of the protesters, no one was seriously hurt.
The march ended at a Bank of America branch. Protesters noted that BOA is intimately tied with the police occupation and gentrification of African-American and other oppressed communities from North Carolina to New York. They urged calls to Charlotte officials to demand they drop the 95 arrest warrants against protesters. For details, go to charlotteuprising.com.
In Los Angeles, the Black and Brown Students for Social Justice club of the LA Trade-Technical College, BAYAN-USA, the International Action Center and others held a Solidarity with Charlotte Emergency Press Conference. Activists demanded the jailing of killer cops from Charlotte to LA and an immediate end to police and National Guard repression in Charlotte.
Joe Piette, Ellie Dorritie, Greg Butterfield and John Parker contributed to this article.