Continuing Coverage: Protests In North Carolina
Protests continue across North Carolina and around the country following the killing of George Floyd on May 25. Floyd's arrest in Minneapolis was caught on camera and he could be heard saying “I can't breathe” while a white officer, Derek Chauvin, held his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. Chauvin was charged Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
WFDD Staff will update this page with the latest regarding these protests.
June 7, 2020
Several peaceful demonstrations took place in Winston-Salem over the weekend. On Saturday: a Forsyth County Association of Educators rally at the Hall of Justice, a BlackoutNC flashlight vigil on the steps of City Hall, and a Hope Dealers Outreach march from the courthouse to Winston Square that drew more than 1,500 people.
At a smaller gathering organized by high school students in the city’s Bailey Park downtown, Mount Tabor sophomore Trinity Norris says black people have been silenced for too long and it’s time for change.
"I want the people to feel where I’m coming from not only because it’s me, because I’m black. I want them to be put in my shoes," Norris says. "They’ll never have to go through that conversation with their parents that they [pauses] that they have to be conscious of going outside and being their own skin color. We shouldn’t have to have these talks with our children. We shouldn’t have to worry about our brothers and sisters going out and not coming home.
Protests continued on Sunday with more than 1,000 gathering in Greensboro’s LeBauer Park, and in Winston-Salem, a drive against racism took place — each car decorated with signs calling for justice.
Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan released a statement Sunday in response to the death of George Floyd and the protests that have followed.
"To all who have been peacefully protesting in recent days, to all who are outraged by the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Marcus Deon Smith, and so many others: I hear you.
I hear your anger, your pain, your frustration of justice denied for far too long. I hear you crying out for a new way, for changes in priorities and policies, in systems and structures."
Vaughan outlines new programs such as Cure Violence, "a resident-led initiative that treats violence like a public health issue instead of a police issue" and one that dispatches both police and mental health care workers to a scene following certain 911 calls. Her full statement can be read here.
June 6, 2020
Protests organized in response to the death of George Floyd brought more than 1,000 demonstrators to Winston-Salem today. It was among the largest crowds seen in the city since protests began a week ago.
Protesters marched peacefully through downtown this afternoon, stopping in front of the Forsyth County Jail to take a knee in honor of Floyd.
An evening flashlight vigil held outside of City Hall also attracted hundreds of demonstrators.
Mourners are holding a private memorial service in George Floyd’s North Carolina hometown.
In Raeford, the small town near Fayetteville where Floyd was born 46 years ago, two lines of people about 100 deep formed separate lines at the entrance to the church where the private service took place. A public service was scheduled for later in the day.
When a hearse bearing Floyd’s coffin arrived, chants of “Black Power,” “George Floyd” and “No justice, no peace,” echoed from beneath the covered entrance.
“It could have been me. It could have been my brother, my father, any of my friends who are black," said a man in the crowd, Erik Carlos of Fayetteville. “It was a heavy hit, especially knowing that George Floyd was born near my hometown. It made me feel very vulnerable at first.”
A public service is scheduled for later in the day.
-The Associated Press
Crowds are gathering in downtown Winston-Salem for another protest against police brutality, the eighth in as many days.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports multiple demonstrations are scheduled in the city today. One, led by the Forsyth County Association of Educators, began at 11 a.m outside of the Forsyth County Hall of Justice. Social media reports indicate others are scheduled to start near City Hall at noon and 7 p.m.
About 300 protesters peacefully marched through the city Friday night. Today’s crowds are expected to be larger.
June 4, 2020
Dozens of people gathered outside Winston-Salem’s Central YMCA Thursday night to protest police brutality.
More than 100 protesters took part in a peaceful march through the city’s West End neighborhood, accompanied by a handful of police officers who directed traffic. The march was interrupted for eight minutes and 46 seconds as the group took a knee in honor of George Floyd.
Similar demonstrations have been held in the city each night since Saturday. Tuesday’s protest drew the largest crowd, with more than 1,000 people in attendance.
Hundreds of people gathered in Winston-Salem Wednesday night as part of a continuing protest over the death of George Floyd.
There have been protests in the city every night since Sunday. As with Tuesday’s protest, marchers made their way through downtown streets to US 52. But unlike Tuesday, these marchers didn’t shut the highway down.
Tony Ndege is one of the organizers of the march. He says the anger at Floyd’s death and economic factors are ushering in a new era of racial and generational solidarity.
“A lot of what is happening is happening because we’re not being heard," said Ndege. "And the reason we’re not being heard is because we’re not organized together in a way that we need to be.”
The march featured a nine-minute “die-in” where the protesters lied face down on the street. That’s about the same amount of time that a Minneapolis police officer held a knee to Floyd’s neck before he died.
Some of the nationwide protests have sparked clashes between police and protesters as well as damage to property. So far, all of the Winston-Salem marches have been peaceful.
June 3, 2020
For the fifth time in as many days, Winston-Salem residents gathered downtown to protest in response to the death of George Floyd.
Hundreds of people met outside of City Hall before marching to the Forsyth County Jail. The Winston-Salem Journal reports protesters laid down on the street with their hands behind their backs as if handcuffed. The crowd dwindled after 9 p.m. when the official event concluded, though social media reports indicate some protesters continued marching through downtown. The event was organized by Black Lives Matter Winston-Salem.
Another hundred people gathered outside the Benton Convention Center for a separate protest organized by the Young Democrats of Forsyth County in conjunction with LGBTQ Democrats of Forsyth County and The PRIDE Show. Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough and Winston-Salem Police Chief Catrina Thompson both spoke at the event.
Both demonstrations were significantly smaller than Tuesday’s Winston-Salem protest, which attracted 1,000 people and led to the temporary closure of U.S. 52.
The Greensboro City Council is grappling with its response to weekend protests.
Mostly peaceful demonstrations in the city on Saturday and Sunday gave way to unrest after nightfall in response to the death of George Floyd.
The Greensboro Police Department has tallied more than 60 vandalism incidents and over 70 thefts from Saturday through Monday, though officials say not all reports have been processed. For context, during the same weekend last year, about 20 vandalism incidents and more than 100 thefts were reported.
Greensboro City Councilwoman Nancy Hoffmann recommended creating a fund for business owners whose stores were damaged during the protest. But the suggestion didn't sit well with Councilwoman Sharon Hightower, who said the city’s priority should be resolving the issues of racial inequity that sparked the protest, not just addressing property damage.
Ultimately, council directed City Manager David Parrish to come up with a plan for the approximately $250,000 fund to assist Greensboro property owners.
Two more protests in response to the death of George Floyd are planned in Winston-Salem for tonight. They were organized by Black Lives Matter Winston-Salem and the Young Democrats of Forsyth County in conjunction with LGBTQ Democrats of Forsyth County and The PRIDE Show. The Black Lives Matter protest is set to start at 6 p.m. outside of City Hall. The Young Democrats event will begin outside the Benton Convention Center. It’s also scheduled for 6. This is the fifth day of protests in the city.
A protest that began in an empty arts district parking lot spilled over into the streets of Winston-Salem, with marchers eventually shutting down U.S. 52, a highway long seen as a dividing line between black and white city residents.
It was many of the same group of organizers who put together a march to the courthouse Monday. But this time, the crowd was much bigger — more than 1,000 people — and the leaders urged those in attendance not to march.
But hundreds did, moving in different groups. Some marchers went to the south, leading to a shutdown of Fifth and other streets. Others went north, going up to the police station named in honor of late black City Councilwoman Vivian Burke.
By nightfall protesters had shut down all lanes of U.S. 52, and were making their way back downtown, marching up Fifth Street chanting “Black lives matter!”
It all ended peacefully when the marchers returned to Trade Street.
Joshua Black, an organizer, said he was concerned when he first heard that people had splintered off from the protest to march, but was pleased that it ended without destruction as they had asked them to do.
“I think the climate that we set during that moment in time kind of helped to not have any destruction in the city even if two to three hundred people went out and marched and even went on (U.S.) 52 to shut it down on their own,” says Black.
June 2, 2020
Hundreds of people have gathered in downtown Winston-Salem for what may be the city’s largest demonstration in response to the death of George Floyd.
A crowd of about 1,000 is protesting along Sixth Street, near a barbershop whose owner is being blamed for an online post suggesting protesters could be baited with bananas.
The owner told The Winston-Salem Journal his account was hacked and he did not write the post. Yesterday, several bunches of bananas were left in front of the barbershop's door in response to that message.
Social media posts indicate police have rerouted traffic on Sixth and Trade streets to accommodate the protest.
Many of the same people behind yesterday’s peaceful march to the courthouse organized the event, which has received widespread publicity on social media. State Representative Derwin Montgomery spoke and Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines was in attendance at the demonstration.
*This post has been updated to reflect which leaders spoke at and/or attended the event.
Greensboro police report six people were arrested last night on charges related to the city’s new curfew.
Three people were charged with curfew violations, allegedly after remaining on Elm Street after 8 pm. Police say three others who were arrested on charges related to weapons possession and burglary were also found in violation of curfew, but were not charged with the offense.
Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughn issued an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew yesterday after protests in response to the death of George Floyd gave way to unrest over the weekend.
The City of High Point enacted a similar measure, but police made no related arrests overnight.
Protests across the Triad were largely peaceful Monday night. Greensboro and High Point were under curfews. Winston-Salem was not under a curfew and few incidents have been reported there. WFDD's Paul Garber reports that one distinction between the cities is that the police presence in Winston-Salem is much less obvious, despite a crowd of more than 100 people north of downtown Monday. Organizers told Garber that they had high praise for the city’s leadership, including the chief of police Catrina Thompson, Sheriff Kimbrough, the mayor, and the city council. They said police accountability is high here and that makes a difference.
Police officers in the North Carolina city of Fayetteville took a knee in solidarity with protesters two days after the area had experienced violence and looting. The Fayetteville Observer reports that the incident occurred Monday night following protests against police brutality. Nearly 300 protesters were facing a line of police officers in riot gear when the activists lowered down and chanted, “I can’t breathe.” Police officers followed suit, prompting cheers and applause from the activists. Some shook hands and fist-bumped with law enforcement. One woman approached several officers and hugged them. Protests have sprung up across the country following the death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis. - The Associated Press
June 1, 2020
North Carolina’s capital city is enacting an 8 p.m. curfew starting Monday night. The move comes after two nights of protests over the death of George Floyd that led to street fires, store break-ins, and fireworks being thrown at police officers. Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said in a news release Monday that she hopes the curfew will allow the city to recover. The curfew will last each day until 5 a.m. and will remain in place until Baldwin declares it's over. Baldwin said those caught violating the curfew will face a misdemeanor charge and fine. Certain key professions are exempt.
- Associated Press
Greensboro is releasing more information about the city-wide curfew from 8:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m. The curfew will remain in effect "until it is modified or rescinded by the Mayor." In a press release, Mayor Nancy Vaughan says, “I am concerned more about the possible loss of life and injuries for our residents. The curfew is necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare of our community.”
Exemptions from the curfew include:
· Law enforcement officers, firefighters and other public safety employees;
· Doctors, nurses, employees of hospitals or other medical facilities;
· Public utilities, public transportation companies;
· On-duty military personnel
· News media, journalists
· Individuals traveling between work and their residence
· Individuals seeking medical care
Mayor Nancy Vaughan is issuing a city-wide curfew in Greensboro from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
I am issuing a citywide CURFEW effective immediately from 8:00pm - 6:00am, to be in effect until modified or rescinded. ￼Please plan accordingly. It will restrict travel within the city limits.— Mayor Nancy Vaughan (@VaughanNancy) June 1, 2020
Declaration to follow. @greensborocity #StayAtHome especially after 8:00
Mayor Allen Joines joined 15 other North Carolina mayors in issuing the following joint statement on the death of George Floyd:
“As mayors of cities in North Carolina, we have come together to express our abhorrence of the horrific murder of George Floyd, an act of unspeakable violence, cold inhumanity and racism.
The photographic evidence of this act speaks for itself. Mr. Floyd was suffocated to death by a Minneapolis police officer while pleading for his life as three other officers knelt or stood by and did nothing to help him, even as he called out, ‘I can’t breathe.’
As a society, we cannot tolerate this kind of police violence rooted in systemic racism. As mayors, we work closely with the police leadership in our cities, and we know that they also will not tolerate this kind of police violence and racism within their forces. Such acts not only harm innocent people, but they also deeply erode trust in our police forces, despite the good work of so many officers every day—officers who themselves abhor the racism and violence so evident in the death of George Floyd.
Our hearts go out to Mr. Floyd and his family. We support Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis in his call for justice and accountability. We expect a full and fair trial of the police officers involved. We also support the rights of those who are peacefully protesting and honoring the memory of George Floyd and countless others that have been victims of systemic racism and police violence.
Let’s work together to ensure that protests remain peaceful and stay focused on building equitable and just cities for all in North Carolina. And we pledge to make every effort within our power to fight systemic racism within our police forces, cities and this nation.”
May 31, 2020
North Carolina's capital city is cleaning up after a night of protests over the death of George Floyd, which led to what the city's police chief described as “anarchy.”
News outlets report police fired rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray at protesters and journalists after an initially peaceful protest that drew more than 1,000 people broke down Saturday evening.
"We had about two hours of peaceful protesting,” Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said at a Sunday morning press conference. “Everything after that was anarchy.”
Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin called the aftermath of the protests “heartbreaking and devastating.”
“There was a group of people who came in the dark of the night who had no intention of protesting peacefully,” she said.
There were also gatherings large and small in Winston-Salem, including a rally in support of black women at Gateway Commons Park. That's where Ella Crawley was found badly beaten just over a week ago.
She eventually died from her injuries.
The Winston-Salem protests remained peaceful through the weekend. That’s in contrast to other cities across the state including Charlotte and Raleigh where police and protesters clashed.
Two rallies in uptown Charlotte Sunday afternoon brought big crowds downtown to remember George Floyd and other African Americans killed by white people across the United States. Both rallies had a more serious and soul-searching tone than protests Friday and Saturday nights.
As WFAE reports, one of the weekend's most powerful moments came at 3:30 p.m. Hundreds of marchers who started at Romare Bearden Park and wound around uptown stopped near the Epicentre on College Street. They knelt and raised their fists in the air for nine minutes of silence — the length of a video that showed a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Floyd's neck as he was dying. People yelled out Floyd's final words: "Momma" and "I can't breathe."
A series of protests, large and small, spread throughout the Triad this weekend as the nation continued to grapple with police violence against minorities.
In Greensboro Saturday, a group of about 200 people marched down Gate City Boulevard in the heat of the afternoon.
“The whole purpose of this peaceful demonstration is because the community of this city has just had enough of the injustice,” said Virginia Holmes. “We're done.”
Police closed several streets along the way as the marchers made their way.
Joshua Caudle, who led the marchers in chants, said of the protests across the country that there’s no playbook for how to fight for freedom.
“We want the ability to breathe, we want the ability to walk, we want the ability to run, we want the ability to live,” he said. “We want people to know that we are human, we have skin and bones and we bleed the same. The only difference is God made our hue a little darker.”
Just after 8 p.m., Greensboro police sent out notices that Interstate 40 and some streets across the city were closed because of the protests. Later, this situation became tense — Greensboro police in riot gear used tear gas on the crowds, and there were reports of property damage and looting on South Elm Street.
May 29, 2020
Forsyth County law enforcement officials are denouncing the actions of Minneapolis police officers involved in the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in their custody.
A video released this week showed an officer pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes despite his pleas for help. At a press conference Friday, Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough Jr. told reporters he was deeply disturbed by the footage.
"Before I was a police officer, I was a black man. And long after I'm no longer the sheriff, I'm still going to be a black man. I understand profiling. I understand it firsthand. I've experienced multiple times in my career," said Kimbrough. "What I would tell you, like many of you across this city, this county, in this country, I was horrified. I was angry.”
Kimbrough said that behavior would not be tolerated in his department. He said his officers are regularly trained and wear body cameras for accountability.