Couple ties knot at vandalized hotel during uptown protests

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s been a week of unrest and tension in the Queen City, but one local couple was determined not to let all the protests and violence ruin their perfect day.

Jenelle Davis and Deatric Smith had planned to get married in uptown Charlotte on Saturday long before a state of emergency was imposed following the shooting death of Keith Scott by police last week that brought National Guard troops and armored vehicles to street corners in the heart of the city.

(Credit: Shanna Duffy)

According to their wedding planner, Crystal McCorkle, Jenelle and Deatric had chosen the Hyatt House as their venue, but the building was vandalized after protests and demonstrations erupted during the week.

Those demonstrations reached a violent crescendo Wednesday before the National Guard was called in a day later to maintain order. Forty-four people were arrested after Wednesday's protests.

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Jenelle was devastated, McCorkle told Channel 9, and the couple questioned if they should move the venue. They decided against it, and the entire hotel was boarded up to prevent protesters from breaking all the windows.

When guests arrived, they weren’t sure about their safety, and could hear the crowds outside, McCorkle said. The sound inside the hotel wouldn’t work either, and ministers had to shout during the ceremony.

(Credit: Shanna Duffy)

But in the end, the vows were read and Jenelle and Deatric became husband and wife -- with their closest friends and family there to witness it.

Incredibly, only three guests didn’t show.

Members of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association were uptown on Saturday night and prayed with them, McCorkle said, and the couple even snapped some photos with National Guardsmen who were stationed near the hotel.

On Monday, Channel 9 saw local artists painting messages of peace and love on the boarded up Hyatt House.

Jennelle and Deatric said they stand for unity, and at the end of the night it was about turning lemons into lemonade in the midst of all that surrounded them.

While they can now relax on their Caribbean honeymoon, the newlyweds want to make clear their unwavering message: That love always prevails.

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