Councilmember Braxton Winston livestreams public forum since the city now refuses to itself

Winston criticized City Council's decisions to stop televising public forums while still a civilian

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte City Councilmember Braxton Winston livestreamed the public forum portion of the Council meeting Monday night, now that the city has decided to stop doing so itself.

Broadcasting of the 30 minutes when citizens can bring their concerns or issues to Council ceased following a contentious public forum after the police shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott.

It also produced international headlines for the emotional plea against police brutality delivered by a young girl named Zianna Oliphant.

Winston, who was active during the protests resulting from Scott’s death, was also one of the speakers that night.

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You can see him in the video below, starting just past the 2 hour, 1 minute mark.

While the cameras were rolling that night, and the video was televised, Winston was also livestreaming during that forum, which was extended due to the unusual circumstances.

Now, Winston is a member of Council, having won an at-large seat in last month’s election, and he has once again stepped up to show that he intends to be a different kind of politician.

Related: Braxton Winston, activist to council member, shows yet again why he was elected during swearing-in

City Council also voted to move the bi-monthly forum into a separate meeting room, free of cameras altogether.

In October, it decided to move the public forum back into the chamber, patting itself on the back for doing so, while at the same time quietly upholding the decision to keep it from broader public view by leaving the cameras off.

The move to turn and keep the cameras off has been kept quiet by Council, with Republican Kenny Smith, who left City Council following his loss to Mayor Vi Lyles, seemingly pushed forward as the mouthpiece. 

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Smith told The Charlotte Observer in May, when the decision was first made, that he and his colleagues felt the forum had “drifted” from its original intent of asking for requesting mundane issues like potholes. He added that it was making a tense situation more volatile to have the forum televised.

Winston is quoted in that same article criticizing the move.

“Why would you not want to increase ways for people to be engaged?” he asked. “I don’t understand it.”

When City Council kept the blackout going, Smith reiterated that they felt televising it would “not be productive.”

Winston is one of five new Charlotte City Council members, including fellow Democrats Larken Egleston, Justin Harlow and Matt Newton, and Republican Tariq Scott Bokhari.

Winston livestreamed ahead of the meeting as well, saying he would attempt to stream the forum, and asking people to “show up and stay involved, because we have to do this together.”

Watch Winston’s livestream of Monday night’s public forum below.

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UPDATE: Charlotte City Council appears ready to revisit the issue of televising the public forum at the start of the new year

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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.