The Charlotte-Mecklenburg branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People met in uptown Charlotte on Wednesday to demand an apology from the city’s mayor.
When talking about the Fourth of July celebrations, Mayor Pat McCrory said in a statement to government officials, “Too many of our youth, primarily African-American, are imitating and or participating in a gangster type of dress, attitude, behavior and action."
Officers arrested 169 people during the Independence Day celebration, most were black. Although that’s many more than in years past, police said the arrests also meant fewer scenes similar to the fights on July 4, 2006, that led to police in riot gear storming the streets.
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The NAACP said an apology is needed and the mayor does not represent the rest of Charlotte’s government. Ken White, the president of the Charlotte Branch of the NAACP, said McCrory's comments reinforce stereotypes.
McCrory said he will not apologize and wants to put an end to gang violence in the area.
Eyewitness News spoke with both sides.
“We want our children to do the right thing, but we must know that clothes do not determine the character of an individual and we cannot prejudge our youth by the way they’re dressed,” said Joyce Wadell of the NAACP.
“(I’m) a little disappointed because I think the NAACP, who I greatly respect, is missing out on an excellent opportunity to tell our young kids that we shouldn’t be imitating the dress, the behavior, the action (of gang members) -- this is a uniform they wear,” McCrory said.
The NAACP said the mayor’s statement is his opinion and he should not paint a wide picture. McCrory said the comments were accurate, noting statistics that show more than 60 percent of Charlotte's gang members are black.