Charlotte mayor apologizes on behalf of city for decades of inequality

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles read an apology during Monday night’s City Council business meeting. The apology was a result of work by advocates for Restorative Justice CLT, a group that -- among many things -- seeks to address opportunity and wealth gaps in the city. The group’s leader said the mayor went a step further by acknowledging historical injustice and by highlighting a path forwards.

“Our apology is grounded in the fact that Charlotte is a tale of two cities. We have great prosperity and great poverty,” Lyles said Monday.

[WSOC SECTION: TALKING ABOUT RACE]

She apologized on behalf of the city for decades of inequality. She pointed to the Jim Crow era, redlining, upward mobility, and Charlotte’s “Urban Renewal” policies in the 60′s when Brooklyn Village in the city’s Second Ward was razed, displacing more than 1,000 families.

"Charlotte lives with the continued impact of those laws, policies and social determinants resulting in health disparity, food insecurity, negative environmental impacts," Lyles said.

The apology came at the request of Restorative Justice CLT, which is led by the Rev. Willie Keaton. He said the apology is historic.

"That is a big moment that we're proud of Mayor Vi Lyles for what she's done." Keaton said.

The mayor also highlighted a path forward with several initiatives. One is something the city has been working on which is the reduction of trauma in the city through violence interruption programs.

The city is launching an outreach program in the jail and on the streets in the fall with a focus on Beatties Ford and Sugar Creek roads.

Keaton said the apology is a first step and a crucial acknowledgment of history in Charlotte.

"It's important for us to capitalize and maximize on this moment and pursue real change with substance," Keaton said.

A step Restorative Justice CLT said officials would like to see in the future is a trust set up with money to support Black businesses and communities at any time, especially during difficult times like the current pandemic.