Charlotte Talks Public Conversation: Homicides And The Impact On The Queen City

Jul 12, 2017

Mike Collins hosted a special Charlotte Talks Public Conversation about Charlotte’s rising homicide count.  CMPD Chief Kerr Putney and others spoke at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church on July 11th to share what’s being done to quell homicide in Charlotte, what is left to do and its impact on our city.  

Beyond the conversation: We want to hear from you. Share your thoughts about this problem by calling 704-879-3536.

We are 28 weeks into 2017 but at this moment, Charlotte has witnessed 49 homicides. That puts us on track to reach 95 murders this year – a third more than the 67 the city saw last year.

Because there have been so many – almost two a week – the constant barrage of news stories may concern you but also numb you to this alarming trend.

Credit Tom Bullock / WFAE

To most of us, this rising body count is just another statistic but we should not forget that behind those numbers are people and not just the people who lost their lives – but the people who make up their families, their neighbors, their friends, and the community at large.

On Tuesday, July 11th, WFAE hosted a special Charlotte Talks Public Conversation at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. Host Mike Collins was joined by CMPD Chief Kerr Putney and others to talk about the impact on Charlotte, what is being done and what is left to do. Some highlights:

On the role of incarceration policy

"Twenty years ago when mass incarceration hit the United States, this is what we’re suffering from right now. These murders we’re going through right now, we’re suffering from because we locked up all the leaders in the community with these crazy drug laws. As black males we have no figures. We have to find something for individuals once they’re released to help them transition back into society."
- Gemini Boyd, community activist and CEO of Project BOLT

"There is no unified political will. It’s a ‘siloed’ system and we’re not working well together. This is a public health crisis. We have to attack this from a mental standpoint."
- Julie Eiselt, Charlotte City Council member

On economic mobility

"You have to look at social, economic and education opportunities, it’s multifaceted. You have people who are devoid of hope, they’re frustrated with a lot of circumstances and they’re resorting to things we don’t believe makes sense to resolve conflicts. They think all they have is their self-respect. If you’re born poor in Charlotte, you’ll die poor in Charlotte."
- CMPD Chief Kerr Putney

'The alarm is sounding' at a young age

"I have students who are already on the trajectory to be incarcerated. They will drop out by the 9th grade. Many of them can’t read. They are behind, and angry and will hit another student in a second. As a district the alarm is sounding. I can tell you with certainty. If I am alive in 10 years I know exactly who I’ll see on CMPD.org."
- Mechele Vaughn, second-grade teacher at Druid Hills Academy

What's Next

"We’re going to have to have people with authority and influence give up some of this power and allow some people who don’t to have a seat at the table. I’m not asking you to tutor or spend time with kids you’re afraid of. Fund those who are willing to do the work. If you have financial means, support the work that needs to be done to change the outcome. Then get out of the way and shut your mouth. Stay in your lane and do your role."
- CMPD Chief Kerr Putney

Guests:

Kerr Putney, CMPD Chief

Judy Williams, Mothers of Murdered Offspring

Damian Johnson, co-owner of No Grease Barber Shop

Gemini Boyd, community activist and founder of Project BOLT

Julie Eiselt, Charlotte City Council

WFAE's Coverage of Charlotte's 2017 Homicides:

'This Can Happen To Anyone'

Interactive Map 'A Look At The Victims'

Charlotte Talks 'Chronicling Charlotte's Homicides'

Charlotte Talks 'Charlotte's Homicide Rate Continues To Rise'

Charlotte Talks 'A Public Health Approach To Charlotte's Homicides'