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2 years after George Floyd protests, Charlotte protesters still face charges

 Criminal defense attorney Tim Emry, center, reads from prepared remarks at press conference outside the Mecklenburg County District Attorney's office on Sept. 7, 2022.
Nick de la Canal
Criminal defense attorney Tim Emry, center, reads from prepared remarks at press conference outside the Mecklenburg County District Attorney's office on Sept. 7, 2022.

More than two years after 132 people were arrested in uptown Charlotte amid nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd, at least 30 are still waiting for their cases to resolve in Mecklenburg County court, and some have yet to make a first court appearance.

WFAE has been tracking the arrests, which were made during a period spanning about two weeks in uptown Charlotte between May 29 and June 10.

Of the 132 people arrested at the protests, ten were charged with felonies, including breaking and entering and inciting a riot, and 120 were charged with misdemeanors or civil infractions. The two most common charges were failure to disperse and resisting a public officer.

Still, few protesters have had their charges stick. A WFAE analysis finds 94 protesters have had all charges dropped or dismissed. The vast majority were dropped by District Attorney Spencer Merriweather.

However, at least 30 protesters still have pending charges now more than two years later — the most common are assault on a government official and charges involving weapons. At least eight are still waiting to have a first court appearance.

Speaking to reporters outside Merriweather's office Wednesday, criminal defense attorney Tim Emry, who unsuccessfully challenged Merriweather in the 2022 Democratic primary, said the years-old charges were causing problems.

"We've had clients who have lost jobs, lost housing, all because of being accused of crimes without being convicted," Emry said.

Emry was joined by defense attorneys Dominique Camm, Habekah Cannon and Xavier de Janon, who also urged Merriweather to drop the remaining charges.

In statements to WFAE, Merriweather's office has said staff have had to prioritize which cases to pursue after more than 100,000 cases piled up during the court's partial COVID-19 shutdown in 2020.

Merriweather's office has been prioritizing cases involving violence, weapons and destruction of property while dropping most other misdemeanor cases.

A spokesperson for the district attorney emphasized that those actions aren't limited to just the 2020 protesters. Merriweather has also dropped charges against 12 anti-abortion activists who were cited for violating mass gathering rules outside a women's clinic in April 2020.

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Copyright 2022 WFAE. To see more, visit WFAE.

WFAE's Nick de la Canal can be heard on public radio airwaves across the Charlotte region, bringing listeners the latest in local and regional news updates. He's been a part of the WFAE newsroom since 2013, when he began as an intern. His reporting helped the station earn an Edward R. Murrow award for breaking news coverage following the Keith Scott shooting and protests in September 2016. More recently, he's been reporting on food, culture, transportation, immigration, and even the paranormal on the FAQ City podcast. He grew up in Charlotte, graduated from Myers Park High, and received his degree in journalism from Emerson College in Boston. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal