CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A large group of Charlotte clergy members wrote a letter condemning the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, as the department comes under fire for actions taken at a protest on Tuesday.
"Our faith, our love for the city and our desire for accountable partnership compels us to write this letter," the letter reads.
Last Saturday, a group of Charlotte clergy met with Mayor Vi Lyles and the city manager to share concerns about protests in Charlotte, and how to keep them safe for all involved. According to the letter, Mayor Lyles asked clergy to be visible at protests in clerical attire.
The letter continues to say that everyone at the meeting agreed to work for "peace and restraint," and called for a deeper conversation about police tactics in the coming days.
"Clergy, in fact, held up their end of the agreement and were present in protests throughout the weekend," the letter reads. "Over the course of these protests, we have been surprised to see the stark contrast between police presence and tactics during the day and those used at night. On the evening of June 2, around 9:15 p.m., a clergy member was corralled with a group marching peacefully and sprayed with an irritant that left him coughing, choked and with sunburned-like places on the little bit of skin that was exposed."
Clergy members say in the letter that many felt betrayed by this, saying they "are deeply disappointed over what we view to be highly-militarized and unnecessary uses of force in light of our conversations with the Mayor and City Manager."
Clergy members say they wrote the letter to hold city leaders accountable to the discussion from over the weekend.
They "acknowledge and endorse" the State Bureau of Investigation's examination of the June 2 events, but clergy now call for specific responses from CMPD and city leaders going forward:
1. Denounce CMPD’s behavior on Tuesday night, June 2.
2. Denounce the use of tear gas on the streets of Charlotte
3. Denounce the use of kettling as a tactic against peaceful protesters
4. Immediately de-escalate use of force by the police against protesters, period.
"We fear that the protests may become more unpredictable without a clear acknowledgment of the errors made on June 2 and a pledge that escalation tactics like those will no longer be used or condoned," clergy members said in the letter.
A large group of Charlotte clergy signed the letter. Here's the list in full:
- Rev. LeDayne Mcleese Polaski
- Bishop Claude Alexander
- Rev. Amy Brooks, Greenfaith
- Rev. Bruce Baker Rooks, Pastor, SouthPark Christian Church
- Rev. Cassandra Aline Jones, PhD
- Pastor Megan Argabrite
- Rev. Christy Snow
- Rev. Michelle Chappell, Dilworth UMC
- Rev. Nathan Arledge
- Rev. Taylor Pryde Barefoot
- Rabbi Dusty Klass, Temple Beth El
- Rev. Cade Barefoot
- Rev. Eve Stevens
- Rev. Dr. Rodney S. Sadler, Jr.
- Rev. Darryl Dayson
- Rev. John Cleghorn, Caldwell Presbyterian
- Rev. Glencie S. Rhedrick, Co-Chair Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice
- Rev. Justin Martin, Caldwell Presbyterian
- Rev. Dr. Von Clemans
- Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas
- Rabbi Asher Knight, Temple Beth El
- Imam John Ederer, Muslim Community Center
- Rev. Greg Jarrell, QC Family Tree
- Rev. Helms Jarrell, QC Family Tree
- Rev. David Roberts, Watershed
- Rev. Jacob Pierce, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
- Rev. Andrew Graham Shipley, Missiongathering Christian Church Disciples of Christ
- Rev. Mary Frances Comer, Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church
- Rev. Eleanor Shell
- Rabbi Judy Schindler, Stan Greenspon Ctr at Queens University
- Rev. Dr. Scott Hofert, Watershed
- Rev. Jay Leach, Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte
- Rev. Willie Keaton, Mt. Olive Presbyterian
- Rev. Dr. Jan Edmiston
- General Presbyter, Presbytery of Charlotte
- Rev. Amelia Stinson-Wesley, First United Methodist Church
- Rev. Dr. Val Rosenquist, First United Methodist Church
- Rev. Matthew M. O’Neil, Watershed
- Rev. Kate Murphy, The Grove
- Rev. Cedric Lundy, Watershed
- Rev. Emily K. Hartner, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
- Rev. Sonya McAuley-Allen, Bellefonte Presbyterian Church
- Rev Russ Dean, Park Road Baptist
- Rev Amy Jacks Dean, Park Road Baptist
- Rev Deb Blackwood, PhD, Galilee Center of East Charlotte, Episcopal Church of the Holy Comforter
- Rev. Joe Clifford, Myers Park Presbyterian
- Amanda K. Robertson, Episcopal Church of the Holy Comforter
- Rev. Veronica Cannon; First Presbyterian Church Waxhaw
- Rev. Carmen Germino, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Davidson
- Rev. Floretta L Barbee-Watkins, The Avenue PCUSA
- Rev. Fred Robinson
- Rev. Nina Wynn
- Rev. Amanda Stephenson, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
- Pen Peery, First Presbyterian Church, Charlotte