CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Councilmember Dimple Ajmera said she is concerned about safety and trust in Charlotte after the events in Charlottesville.
Charlotte City Council members rejected Ajmera's resolution Monday night protesting the Charlottesville events, some members accusing Ajmera of proposing it for the wrong intentions.
"It feels more political, especially in how it was brought out in a tough primary in which many of you are competing in," Republican City Councilman and mayoral candidate Kenny Smith said. "This feels like it was brought for political purposes more than heartfelt condolences sent to the folks in Charlottesville."
Ajmera's proposed resolution said, "there has been a noticeable and unacceptable increase in this country of speech and assembly by the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and fascists."
The resolution also called for Charlotte City Council to condemn "the violence and abuse of the right to free speech and assembly that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, to condemn the abuse of freedom of speech and assembly in furtherance of hate, discrimination, bigotry and violence wherever it may occur. And to unequivocally state ‘that those who abuse these rights are not welcome in Charlotte.’"
Emails obtained by Channel 9 showed Ajmera first emailed City Council members Thursday, Aug. 24, with the draft language.
Republican City Councilman Ed Driggs responded to the email, saying, "I hope you will join me in rejecting this cynical attempt by a candidate for office to capitalize on the tragic events in Charlottesville for personal political purposes. I'm sure we all deplore the violence that occurred, but we have enough social issues in our City without trying to breathe life into this one with an official proclamation that is amateurish, ugly and inflammatory."
Democratic Councilwoman Julie Eiselt responded to Driggs' email, saying, "I concur."
Ajmera denies the Charlottesville resolution was for political purposes. She said she proposed the resolution Monday night because it was the first meeting since Charlottesville. She called for a vote on the resolution for after the September primary.
"As representatives of one of the fastest-growing and diverse cities in the country, we should not be silent when it comes to condemning oppression, hatred and bigotry," Ajmera said. "Our silence may be seen as a disregard to communities of color which represents over 56 percent of our city's total population."
Ajmera found few supporters at the dais Monday night. District 2 Represenative Carlenia Ivory originally seconded Ajmera's motion but later asked to withdraw it.
Mayor Jennifer Roberts stood up for Ajmera when Smith accused her of bringing forth the resolution for political purposes.
"I think we need to be careful as councilmembers to not assume someone else's motives," Roberts said. "I hope we all anticipate our best selves of each one of us."
On Monday night, Eiselt also said she felt Ajmera's motion was political. The At-Large councilwoman put forth a friendly amendment calling for the City Manager's Office to create a resolution against events in Charlottesville.
The motion passed unanimously.
Ajmera, who said at the beginning she was willing to change the language of the draft resolution, maintains there was no ill intent behind her resolution.
"As MLK said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,'" she said. "I look forward to discussing safety, peace and unity in our welcoming city."
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