Raleigh vigil turns to street protest on third night of rallies against police violence

Andrew Carter, Adam Wagner, Brooke Cain
·7 min read

Roughly 300 people gathered at Moore Square and some of them then marched through downtown Sunday evening, calling for change during a third consecutive night of protests in the Triangle against police violence.

At least seven arrests were made as the protesters moved through downtown streets.

During the weekend of protest, more than 100 people marched peacefully through downtown Raleigh on Saturday evening and a similar number came together in Durham on Friday evening. Sunday evening’s gathering started with a vigil for Daunte Wright, with speakers also naming Adam Toledo and others killed by police.

A suburban Minneapolis police officer shot and killed 20-year-old Wright during a traffic stop when, police say, an officer confused her firearm for a taser.

Body camera footage released in Chicago Thursday showed Toledo, a 13-year-old boy, complying with an officer’s commands and raising his hands in the moment before a Chicago police officer fatally shot him during a March foot chase.

At the vigil Sunday, an 18-year-old Black man spoke passionately about the police killings.

“I don’t want to be the next person they’re in the streets for,” he said.

Speakers took turns talking while people sat on the grass, listening. One speaker talked of taking to the streets.

Protesters march through downtown Raleigh

Around 8 p.m. Sunday, a crowd of about 100 people started marching to Fayetteville Street chanting, “no justice, no peace, abolish the police,” along with the names of Wright and Toledo. A few in the crowd threw eggs toward TV cameras and at police cars.

When the crowd stopped on Fayetteville Street, a police officer told them to get out of the street and the crowd responded with chants of, “Whose streets? Our streets.”

As the protesters moved down Fayetteville Street, they threw eggs at the windows of the ABC11 studio before turning on Davie Street and chanting, “We see you, we love you” in the direction of the Wake County Detention Center.

They overturned trash cans in the middle of Salisbury Street, which were quickly cleared by the police, who announced over a loudspeaker that protesters were engaged in an unlawful assembly.

There were at least six arrests during a march Sunday through downtown Raleigh.
There were at least six arrests during a march Sunday through downtown Raleigh.

When the crowd reached the the intersection of McDowell and Cabarrus streets, they burned an American flag, then kept moving. Another flag was burned when the crowd reached Martin Street, and more trash cans were overturned as they marched and chanted.

Police trail protesters marching through downtown Raleigh on Sunday evening.
Police trail protesters marching through downtown Raleigh on Sunday evening.

The group continued their march, some marching arm-in-arm and chanting, “We keep us safe,” while police followed in vans and Gator-style utility vehicles. As the group neared the old State Capitol building, police exited vehicles and began chasing after the crowd, which dispersed.

Police in riot gear respond during a march through downtown Raleigh on Sunday night, April 18, 2021.
Police in riot gear respond during a march through downtown Raleigh on Sunday night, April 18, 2021.

An ABC11 reporter tweeted a short video Sunday night showing graffiti damage and a broken window at the Urban Outfitters store on West Martin Street.

Awaiting Derek Chauvin verdict

This weekend’s marches are happening days before a verdict is expected in the murder trial of a former Minneapolis police officer in the death of George Floyd.

Derek Chauvin is on trial on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges in Floyd’s May 2020 death. The incident — and a video that showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck as bystanders pleaded for him to release Floyd — sparked weeks of protests against police conduct throughout the country last summer, including in Raleigh and Durham.

After meeting at the Executive Mansion on Saturday, the group blocked traffic as it marched through downtown chanting “Get out of your cars and into the streets” and “No justice, no peace.” Police warned protesters several times to get on the sidewalk or face arrest, but marchers remained in the streets. Marchers also chanted the names of Toledo and Wright.

After walking through downtown, marchers stopped on the grounds of the N.C. State Capitol, near where a monument to Confederate soldiers stood until last summer.

“Y’all know what the (expletive) was right here, last year?” a man called out.

A group of demonstrators march around the N.C. State Capitol Saturday evening, April 17, 2021 in Raleigh.
A group of demonstrators march around the N.C. State Capitol Saturday evening, April 17, 2021 in Raleigh.

Last June, protesters toppled a pair of statues honoring Confederate soldiers and sailors from the monument, which was unveiled in 1895. Days later, Gov. Roy Cooper called for the removal of the remainder of the 75-foot granite monument, as well as two other statues honoring the Confederacy on Capitol grounds.

As the group gathered around where the granite monument used to stand, speakers took turns describing their fear of being killed because they are Black. A Black teenage boy broke down in tears as he described his personal experience.

Later, a teenage girl said, “I am begging you, please do not stop fighting.”

The group then walked through downtown again, at one point moving through a group of outdoor diners at Raleigh Times.

After that, the protest wrapped up at the Executive Mansion, back where it had started. There, protesters chanted the name of people who had been killed by police before dispersing around 8:15 p.m. There were no apparent arrests or property damage on Saturday.

Protest against NC bill

Earlier Saturday, about 200 protesters marched through downtown Raleigh, demonstrating against a proposed North Carolina bill that would make it illegal for doctors to provide gender-confirming treatment for transgender people younger than 21.

Three Republican lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 514 earlier this month. If it becomes law, North Carolina doctors would be barred from providing gender-reassignment surgery, puberty blockers or hormone treatment to transgender teens and young adults.

Protesters met near the State Capitol on Saturday afternoon and marched peacefully through downtown in opposition to SB 514. They chanted “take our health care, take our lives” as they marched and decried transphobia in government and policy-making.

Protestors stop at a downtown Raleigh street corner on Saturday during a demonstration against Senate Bill 514, which would bar doctors from providing gender-affirming treatment to transgender people younger than 21.
Protestors stop at a downtown Raleigh street corner on Saturday during a demonstration against Senate Bill 514, which would bar doctors from providing gender-affirming treatment to transgender people younger than 21.

Another bill, Senate Bill 515, the “Health Care Heroes Conscience Protection Act,” would allow doctors, health care institutions, insurance companies and other medical practitioners to refuse health care service to someone based on their own “religious, moral, ethical or philosophical beliefs or principles,” The News & Observer has previously reported.

A third piece of proposed legislation, House Bill 358, would prevent transgender girls and women from participating in women’s sports in North Carolina middle schools, high schools and colleges.

After a lap around several city blocks, the protesters stopped in a courtyard across from the North Carolina Legislative Building, where the organizers offered those in attendance a chance to tell their stories. Several transgender people spoke of how SB 514 might affect them — or how it would have if they were younger.

One of the speakers was a transgender woman, 25, who said she began hormone treatment when she was 19.”With this bill I often think about how it would’ve affected me had it been introduced at the beginning stages of my transition,” she said. “And, it just breaks my heart. Because why — why would you want to stop people from being who they are?”

A 13-year-old transgender boy spoke about how the government was trying to take away his right to be who he is, openly, by denying him the ability to pursue treatment in North Carolina.

“I can’t wait eight years” for gender-confirming treatment, he said. “I just can’t do that.”

During protests on Friday, more than 100 people gathered in Durham to protest against injustices against people of color and transgender people. The News & Observer reported that Friday’s protesters in Durham carried signs that read “trans power,” and “stop killing us.”

The protests were in reaction to a pair of recent incidents where police officers fatally shot young men of color: 20-year-old Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb and 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago.

Marchers also pointed to the murder of Jaida Peterson, a Black transgender woman who was found shot in a Charlotte hotel room earlier this month. Friday afternoon, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police arrested two men and charged them in the murders of Peterson and another transgender Black transgender woman, according to The Charlotte Observer.

In Raleigh on Friday, a few dozen people gathered outside of the Executive Mansion, according to The News & Observer, before marching through downtown and calling for law enforcement accountability.

This is a developing story and will be updated.