Charlotte responds to body camera footage from Danquirs Franklin shooting with Queen City Day of Solidarity
“Danquirs changed lives, not just mine. He was a success story in our family. He never made a B on his report card in his life,” Alexia Jackson recalled April 15 at a rally for her cousin, Danquirs Franklin, in Marshall Park.
The event was in response to the morning release of police body camera footage from the day he was shot by CMPD officer Wende Kerl. It shows Franklin apparently attempting to comply with police orders to put down a gun as Kerl fires two shots that ultimately claimed his life.
Jackson wondered if people had seen another video of her cousin: “He played basketball with the cops. Did you watch that on Youtube? Did you take time out to see his story? He wrote a book about how we can be better people in the community, by coming together and creating mentors.”
Community unity and neighborhood-focused initiatives were on the mind of many Charlotte activists Monday night. In addition to the Marshall Park rally, a series of “Stop the Violence” rallies were held across the city and livestreamed on social media. This series was called Queen City Day of Solidarity. It was organized by the United Neighborhoods of Charlotte, which held gatherings in Hidden Valley, Grier Heights, Little Rock Road, Nations Ford Road and Pegram Street.
At Tom Hunter Park near Hidden Valley, about 50 people congregated as the event kicked off, including members of clergy and the Nation of Islam — people who might normally have attended the rally in Marshall Park.
“A lot of people were headed towards downtown, but we wanted to get them into the communities so we can identify needs here,” said Charles Robinson, who helped put the events together. “We could’ve went to Marshall Park. I went to Marshall Park two years ago. And I said ‘Wow, what are we doing to move forward?’ No answers. We cannot afford to do the same things over and over again and expect different results. Let’s get in the community and get people who don’t normally come to these communities to come here. We want those gang kids to come out. We want their moms to come out. You need help? Let’s see how we can help.”
Although the Day of Solidarity gatherings seemed less focused on Danquirs Franklin, their ideas were echoed at the Marshall Park rally. At one point during her speech, Jackson implored attendees to visit Black neighborhoods in Charlotte: “Don’t just rally up, walk in the communities. If you come to my door, I’m going to talk to you. I might be surprised to see you, but I shouldn’t be.”
“We’re gonna have to create change right where we are,” said Kass Ottley, an activist and organizer of the Marshall Park rally. “For elected officials and pastors, we want to see you all the time, not just when the cameras are rolling. We want to see you in the community on a more consistent basis. We’re gonna have to work together.”
City councilmembers Braxton Winston and Larken Egleston were both in attendance. Both said they were there to listen to the community’s concerns.
“It’s not just about me and my personal feelings, it’s about my position and what I can do with it,” said Winston. He said he’d be searching for answers, and not just from CMPD. “When we talk about things that haven’t changed, there’s state law involved. And as a city council member, one of our jobs is to organize around laws we can better operate under, so we’ve got to think about that.”
“I dont think it’s the council’s role to determine the legality of these situations, but it’s fair for us to ask questions,” said Egleston, “When there’s a tragedy in our community, it’s our job to review it and determine what we could do better to prevent it from happening again.”
Egleston went on to say he was glad the night had remained peaceful, but impassioned:
“I didn’t hear anything unfair tonight. I heard people say they’re asking for change and they’re not getting it, and that’s a fair statement.
“I can see why people of color feel like the same stuff keeps happening, like gentrification and violence, and we ought to all expect better. I think it’s ok for people to be angry and they should have time and space to be, and we need to listen and determine how we can be part of the solution.”
However, some were skeptical that help will come from elected officials. Towards the end of the Marshall Park rally, a member of the New Black Panthers Party issued a call to action to the Black community:
“It’s not gonna be the government, it’s not gonna be the police, it’s gotta be us in the hoods, in the communities, that make a change. I’m calling on every hood in Charlotte. End the black-on-black violence, and let’s stand up, unite and fight back like we’re supposed to. Let’s go.”