Protesters shut down Trade and Tryon Streets in Charlotte over HB2, black and trans lives

Protesters took the streets Wednesday, April 13, calling for the repeal of anti-LGBT House Bill 2 (HB2) and for respect for black and brown lives as well as the lives of transgender people.

Over 60 people blocked the intersection of Trade and Tryon Streets for over an hour and a half, holding signs and flags and chanting slogans such as “Black lives matter,” “Trans lives matter” and “If we don’t get no justice, you don’t get no peace.”

Names of transgender people who have been killed were also read through a bullhorn, including Elisha Walker, a North Carolina trans woman murdered last year.

Blake Brockington, who was crowned homecoming king at East Mecklenburg High School and who participated in similar actions, was also named. Brockington and some 100 others shut down the same intersection in December of 2014 with a protest that include a die-in.

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Brockington told QNotes, “If we plan to change the system as a whole, we have to change the system together. We have to address all these problems at once — misogyny, patriarchy, LGBT issues, race issues. We have to address everything at once if we plan to change the system at all.”

Brockington died as a result of suicide one year to the day before HB2 was signed into law. A moment of silence was also held during the shut down for Brockington.

While three activists stood in the center of the square locked arm in arm, the remaining protesters blocked the intersections. One driver early on came close to hitting one of the activists with his car. He was stopped and an argument pursued before he was allowed to drive on.

Police eventually blocked off the streets and communicated with organizers to determine how long the protest would last and if it would be possible to end it without arrests.

The streets remained shut down for well over an hour, close to two, when the police warned protesters that they had twenty minutes, and then ten minutes, to disperse or else face arrest.

Bystanders responded with a mix of support and derision. Some said thank you to the protesters as they passed, or clapped or threw their fist up in support. Others told them to get out of the road. A homeless man told them he was going to get all the homeless people together for a rally of their own.

“I’d be right there with you in solidarity for that,” one of them responded.

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“How many of you are homeless?” he asked.

“Actually it’s a big problem in the LGBT community,” the protester replied before he eventually walked off.

The police cleared the road back to First Ward Park, where the rally had begun, and it ended without arrest or incident.

“We knew that we definitely wanted to shut down Charlotte, because of course the ordinance (expansion to include LGBT rights) started in Charlotte. Charlotte has also gotten the most backlash from corporations. But the one thing that was missing from the conversation was the voices of queer and trans people of color,” Organizer and participant Alele “AJ” Williams said after the action ended.

Williams added that he felt their voices had been heard.

Fellow organizer and protester Ashley Williams, who gained national attention when they confronted Hillary Clinton about her “superpredators” comment dating back to the ’90s, said the purpose of the event was to make sure that there was a space for trans people and queer people of color to be seen and heard and to show that Charlotte will fight back against HB2.

The event was organized by a group called Charlotte Queer and Trans People of Color, or CharlotteQTPOC.

More video from the protest can be found here.

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Posted by Jeff Taylor / Social Media Editor

Jeff Taylor is a journalist and artist. In addition to QNotes, his work has appeared in publications such The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing Charlotte, Inside Lacrosse, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. He graduated from the State University of New York at Brockport and has lived in Charlotte since 2006.@jefftaylorhuman.

5 Replies to “Protesters shut down Trade and Tryon Streets in Charlotte over HB2, black and trans lives”

  1. The driver didn’t come close to hitting any protesters, he stopped and got aggravated when a protester smacked his car repeatedly which then forced an argument between the two. Go protest but blocking the roads is not where you should be doing it

    1. We might not be talking about the same driver and I was about 5 feet away and he did come close. They only started smacking the car as it continued to pull into the protesters.

  2. Anthony Branch April 14, 2016 at 6:35 am

    I understand the frustration that led to this, but 60 demonstrators does not achieve that much. It simply allows the right wing to point to people shutting down the streets.

    Let’s hope the same amount of time–or more–is being used by our side in North Carolina to make sure people are registered to vote, understand the rules, and have a way to get to the pools. After all, McCrory is governor only because so many young people, students, etc. did not vote in his election.

  3. The protesters’ rationale for targeting Charlotte doesn’t really make sense. The organizer says they wanted to shut down Charlotte because, ” the ordinance (expansion to include LGBT rights) started in Charlotte. Charlotte has also gotten the most backlash from corporations.”

    It seems like this is saying that Charlotte did a good thing (passing the original nondiscrimination ordinance), then that got overturned in Raleigh, then Charlotte disproportionately had to deal with consequences from corporations, and now they want to punish the city of Charlotte further by “shutting it down”.

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to shut down Raleigh (where HB2 was passed) or some of the home districts of conservative lawmakers who voted for HB2? Why punish Charlotte, when Charlotte was trying to do the right thing in the first place?

  4. More “Silence = Death” Act Up style protests need to take place in the Queen City to get our point across just like we had to do in 1987 when another Republican administration lead by Ronald Raygun Zap who did not say the word AIDS until his friend Rock Hudson passed from it 7 years into his term. “The SILENCE=DEATH Project was a group of six men who had started meeting a year and half before the formation of ACT UP, made up by Avram Finklestein, Brian Howard, Oliver Johnston, Charles Kreloff, Chris Lione, and Jorge Soccaras. They were men who needed to talk to each other and others about what the fuck were they going to do, being gay men in the age of AIDS?! Several of them were designers of various sorts–graphic designers–and they ended up deciding that they had to start doing wheat-pasting on the streets, to get the message out to people: “Why aren’t you doing something?” So they created the SILENCE=DEATH poster which at the bottom said: “Why is Reagan silent about AIDS? What is really going on at the Center for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Vatican? Gays and lesbians are not expendable…Use your power…Vote…Boycott…Defend yourselves…Turn anger, fear, grief into action.” A short time later, several of them were at the evening event when Larry Kramer spoke, which motivated the community of people to found ACT UP.” When I was in Charlotte in the “90s gays were afraid to come out except after dark until thankfully visible Charlotte activists like Sue Henry, Don King, and Dr Bob Barrett helped to change that fear into visible demonstrations by large numbers of GLBT folks at County and City Government meetings, in the square outside Government Center where at the time Bill James was afraid to appear in the light of day without being escorted by an armed guard!! Some things have not changed, it is still necessary for the Silence=Death slogan to be resurrected and the same Act Up attitude brought to bear on those in power like now governor Pat McCrory who continue to try to make political gain by keeping us under their thumb! As far as Pat is concerned it is the same shite just a different day!

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