The following statement comes from Defend J20, and issues a statement and call for solidarity with those facing charges in relation to the Charlotte, NC uprising, which kicked off in the wake of the police murder of Keith Lamont Scott. To read a report back from the uprising, go here.
On May 7th, Glo Merriweather will go to trial in Charlotte, NC, for charges stemming from the Charlotte Uprising protests in 2016 following the police murder of Keith Lamont Scott. On the day after Scott’s murder, a young Black protester named Justin Carr was shot and killed during the protests. Despite witness accounts that the police were responsible for the death of Carr, another protester, Rayquan Borum, has been accused and is facing charges by the state. Rayquan has been held without bond for over 18 months, much of it in solitary confinement, and awaits trial this December. Glo, a young Black trans organizer in Charlotte was next to Carr when he was shot.
Glo helped carry him to medical attention and was present when he died. After Rayquan’s arrest, Glo began to speak out about what they saw and maintained Rayquan’s innocence. Two weeks later they were indicted on charges of inciting a riot and assaulting an officer. This case follows a long history of framing Black activists for heinous crimes in an attempt to silence them.
While the J20 case has drawn national attention for its scope and the nature of the conspiracy charges, we see our cases as intertwined with those of every defendant fighting for liberation whose voice the state and government attempts to stifle with repressive prosecutions. In particular, the use of “incitement” and “riot” charges as a means to destablize social movements is a growing trend. The J20 case does not stand alone in this.
The court system enables the government to vilify any protest which challenges its narrative of acceptable social order weaponizing criminal charges to target organizers and activists in an attempt to weaken social movements. Despite this, we remain strong. While it is easy for us to blame the increase in these charges on the Trump administration, the charges in Charlotte were brought in 2016, which reminds us that these strategies of prosecution have been in the works for a long time.
It is no coincidence that the government is relying on the same institution to investigate these cases- the heavily pro-cop Police Foundation was contracted by both the municipalities of Charlotte and D.C. to issue reports about the police response to protestors. These kind of internal investigations will never be accountable. The charges against Glo and Rayquan are in line with the government’s response to the collective rage against police murders of people of color- to further militarize and criminalize communities of color rather than hold any officer accountable. The state is intentionally trying to intimidate activists with the threat of prison for their organizing and street presence, and limit their action while they are held up in legal battles against aggressive prosecutions.
The charges in Charlotte are part of an increasingly extreme prosecutorial backlash against protesters across the so-called United States, that are levied most often and extremely against black and brown organizers who choose to stand up for their survival. The prison and court system has long been used to repress communities of color, for their mere existence, and even more severely when those communities come together to demand justice and liberation. While there are many people of color among the pool of former and current J20 defendants, we acknowledge that the public faces of the case have been predominantly white. This has no doubt helped foster media interest and widespread support, whereas the case against the Charlotte Uprising defendants, all of whom are Black – including Glo who is also queer, trans* and non-binary, has received relatively little attention.
Glo goes to trial in less than 30 days. We demand all the charges against Glo and Rayquan be dropped immediately. We demand justice for Justin Carr and Keith Lamont Scott. J20 defendants and supporters stand with everyone who stands up to police murders, to white supremacy, against the prison industrial complex and the weaponization of the court system.
Please donate to Glo’s support fund at https://www.gofundme.com/GetGloGoing/donate
To support Rayquan, venmo to @ResistanceIsBeautiful