Charlotte is only a two-hour drive from our campus. Of the approximately 80 percent of UNC students who hail from North Carolina, many come from Charlotte. When injustice strikes so close to home, it’s shocking.
It’s surreal watching Facebook Live videos of police brutality on familiar city sidewalks. It’s surreal seeing a video on CNN and hearing your hometown friend’s heartbreaking cry for justice before she enters the frame, hands clutching at a banner that not only proclaims “Black Lives Matter” but also serves as a barrier between her body and a row of police clad in riot gear and gas masks.
I wish I could say I left Chapel Hill as soon as I could, but I hesitated. A lot of things held me back, but my outrage toward the system outweighed my self-doubt — I drove down to volunteer.
The training for jail solidarity was more thorough than I expected. About 30 people attended an in-depth orientation to the jail system, the current state of Charlotte Uprising and how to best use our time and talents to help out. We introduced ourselves, our pronouns, our hometowns. We explained why we were there.
The organizers needed people to work the hotline, manage contacts with lawyers and police, drive people home and most crucially, to stand outside the city jail in shifts so that they’d have people available there 24/7. The same five people worked these jobs non-stop from Wednesday to Saturday; they were exhausted.