About 50 people gathered outside the Mecklenburg County Courthouse in uptown Charlotte on Saturday afternoon to protest the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols by police officers in the city of Memphis.
Just before 1 p.m., the crowd of people, both Black and white, started to gather at the courthouse entrance.
They included Melissa Funderburk, a longtime community organizer in Charlotte.
"Do we stand up when Black kills Black?" Funderburk asked. "It doesn't matter that it was Black skin in the blue. The point is a mother is crying. It's not OK for them to be killing Black men and women."
CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings stood quietly on the periphery of the gathering, along with several other officers.
On Friday, the city of Memphis released video from body cameras that shows several officers kicking, punching and using a baton on Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who later died. At one point, an officer punched him at least five times in the head while another officer held his hands behind his back. The videos give no indication that Nichols fought back.
The five officers involved in the beating, who were all Black, were charged on Thursday with murder. The Memphis Police Department fired them all last week.
The officers - Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith - were released from jail Friday after posting bail.
Corinne Mack, who heads the Mecklenburg NAACP, addressed the crowd gathered in Charlotte just after 1 p.m. Saturday.
"White supremacists taught Black people very well," Mack said. "Now we're doing it to our own."
As the group prepared to march from the courthouse to police headquarters, Mack cautioned them:
"We're not going to breaking any windows," she said. "Not on my watch."
The Nichols family has called on the Memphis Police Department to disband the special street crimes unit that the officers belonged to, according to a lawyer representing the family.
During a Jan. 7 traffic stop, police shouted expletives at Nichols, pulled him from his car and attempted to pin him to the ground, the video shows. "OK! I am on the ground," Nichols told officers. Soon afterward, an officer appeared to use a stun gun on him. He broke free and ran, with officers in pursuit.
Another video, taken minutes later after officers caught him, shows an officer kicking Nichols in the head after officers pushed him to the ground. Then another officer struck him with a baton. After Nichols stood up, an officer punched him in the head at least five times before he fell to the ground.
Police initially said Nichols had been stopped because he'd been suspected of reckless driving. But the police chief later told CNN there was no proof the FedEx worker had been driving recklessly.
The family's legal team likened the assault to the 1991 Los Angeles Police beating of Rodney King, according to the Associated Press.
But the Nichols family called on protesters to remain peaceful.
In a statement, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said: "Our community has not been immune to these issues that this terrible incident once again brings to the forefront."
On Sept. 20, 2016, Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by police in the parking lot of an apartment complex near UNC Charlotte. The shooting sparked marches, demonstrations and violence.
In 2020, Charlotte activists and community members joined nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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