Politics & Government

Charlotte leaders condemn racism they saw in Greenville: ‘We will not tolerate it’

Leaders of the city that will host next year’s Republican National Convention are rebuking what the mayor called “racist . . . xenophobic hate speech” at President Donald Trump’s North Carolina rally.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles made that clear in a statement about this week’s Greenville rally. And City Council members could vote on a similar resolution on Monday.

“Earlier this week when crowds at a Trump rally chanted ‘send her back,’ in our own state, it was devastating to many of us, myself included,” Lyles said. “The behavior didn’t demonstrate the values of our country and added fuel to already tense political and racial relations. It also certainly didn’t represent the people of Charlotte.

“As an inclusive city that welcomes all people, we open our doors to many, including those attending the RNC in 2020. However, the city of Charlotte is no place for racist or xenophobic hate speech, and we simply will not tolerate it.”

The chants came in response to the president’s tweets that attacked Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. He said the four should “go back” to “the crime infested places from which they came.”

Each is an American citizen. All but Omar, a naturalized refu­gee from Somalis, were born in the United States.

Charlotte will host the GOP convention in August 2020 after the council voted 6-5 to do so last summer. Trump is expected to be renominated.

Council member Justin Harlow is working on a statement that could be voted on at Monday’s meeting.

“The reality is we can’t stay silent on this,” said Harlow, a Democrat. “We will always condemn racism, and hatred and xenophobia in this city.”

Some Trump critics want the city to withdraw from the convention. Democratic council member Braxton Winston said the city attorney will bring the council options on Monday. But Harlow said “we’re too far down that rabbit hole.”

Winston said he hopes the statements send a message to the country about next year’s convention host city.

“We’re throwing a party in our house. We set the house rules,” he said. “I hope that’s what resonates across the country and people understand what kind of house we’re running here.”

Jim Morrill, who grew up near Chicago, covers state and local politics. He’s worked at the Observer since 1981 and taught courses on North Carolina politics at UNC Charlotte and Davidson College.