On Tuesday, a Greensboro City Council meeting aimed at discussing the release of police body cam footage in the case of 16-year-old Jose Charles erupted into a full-blown protest.

During the 5:30 p.m. meeting, council members rushed through regular business in front of a capacity crowd waiting to speak on the issue. But of the 23 people on the list to address council, only a handful ended up doing so.

Before the meeting, community organizer Irving Allen, among the more vocal supporters of Charles at the meeting, said if the council didn't deliver justice for the teenager, there would be consequences.

“If that doesn't happen today, then I hope [city council] is prepared for the repercussions today and the repercussions in November when folks go to the polls,” Allen said. “There's an overwhelming sense throughout the city that something needs to be done, that something was wrong.”

The meeting broke down after supporters of Charles repeatedly interrupted the meeting, saying council members weren't satisfactorily addressing their demands: that the body cam footage of the incident be released; and that the council urge the district attorney to drop the charges against the teenager.

Last July, Charles was arrested after being beaten and bloodied. Greensboro police say Charles spit blood at an officer and that law enforcement acted properly. But his family says it only happened because Charles had been attacked and couldn't breathe because the blood was blocking his airway.

After multiple warnings from Mayor Nancy Vaughan that the crowd needed to stay calm and allow the speakers to continue, the council recessed as the room erupted into chaos.

For roughly half an hour, Charles supporters could be found chanting, singing, and occupying the chamber floor and the dais, where council members sit. Police eventually announced the building was closing, and cleared the area without incident.

Afterward, much of the group marched – eventually with police escort – to an area downtown near the place where Charles was arrested.

While most of the group kept to the sidewalk, a handful of protesters sat down in the middle of Friendly Ave., blocking the street. Eight were arrested for impeding traffic, and the march continued on to the jail.

Both Charles and his mother, Tamara Figueroa, were on hand throughout the evening, with Figueroa often urging calm during the most heated portions of the council meeting and march.

“I love the overwhelming amount of support. I love each and every one of these people, I love what they're doing,” Figueroa said. “I just don't want them to get hurt.”

For his part, Jose Charles says he was heartened and emboldened by the show of support.

“It's just like, amazing having everyone come out here for me and do all this in this room,” Charles said. “And I'd like to see what [council] would do now that we have a big support team in here.”

With this being the final Greensboro City Council meeting before Charles' May 11 court date, and with council taking no action after the room erupted, Figueroa seemed to suggest that Charles' name may not be cleared.

“I'm not optimistic about it. But I hope. I hope we do. And I pray.”

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