CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg police arrested eight people they said violated the stay-at-home order by refusing to leave a protest outside a women’s abortion clinic in southeast Charlotte.
Officers said they responded to Preferred Women’s Health Center on Latrobe Drive and saw around 50 people protesting.
Police said the people were violating the stay-at-home order and an order banning mass gatherings and asked them to leave.
According to officials, 12 people refused to leave and were cited for violation of emergency prohibitions and restrictions.
After, eight people still refused to follow the order and were arrested, officers said. They were charged with violation of emergency prohibitions and restrictions.
The city of Charlotte received complaints a week ago about people protesting at the same women’s clinic amid the stay-at-home order.
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“It’s in the best interest, the safety, and well-being, of the public that more strict compliance be instituted and that is, once again, to safeguard the community,” said city councilman Matt Newton.
Newton said the arrests show that officers will do what’s necessary, but he also wants people to understand that staying healthy means protecting yourself and the healthcare system that is seeing more and more cases of coronavirus.
“We do that by staying home, staying apart and that’s what this order is all about,” Newton said.
David Behnam, one of the eight arrested, along with his brother, have led pro-life demonstrations at the clinic on Latrobe Drive for years.
He didn’t respond to Channel 9’s request for comment on Monday.
Police said Behnam was in a group of about 50 people Saturday and that they were warned and given citations before the arrests were made.
Channel 9 spoke to city council member Braxton Winston, who led demonstrations in Charlotte in 2016. On Monday, he said direct action during this pandemic is to stay at home.
“These orders are for everybody of every creed of every neighborhood,” Winston said. “This is our most direct tool, staying at home, just saving lives right now.”
When CMPD responds to a complaint about someone violating the stay-at-home order they say they will always try to get voluntary compliance.
If not, that is when they take more drastic measures such as making arrests.
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