"I come here today to talk about how I feel."
That's Zianna Oliphant, a young black girl whose tearful address to Charlotte's City Council on Monday has become a powerful symbol for the way that racism and police violence is affecting children of color. of a generation of children's hopes and fears, as they grow up in a city struggling with questions of race and prejudice—
"I feel like that we are treated differently than other people," Oliphant explained. "I don’t like how we’re treated..just because of our color doesn’t mean anything to me."
At that, she looked down and began to cry.
The room, full of protesters there to express their outrage over Scott's killing, shouted words of encouragement, urging Oliphant to continue with her remarks. After a moment, Oliphant looked back into the room, and through her tears delivered a searing plea to—and for—her community.
We are black people, and we shouldn’t have to feel like this. We shouldn’t have to protest because y’all are treating us wrong. We do this because we need to, and we have rights.
I’ve been born and raised in Charlotte, and I never felt this way till now. And I can’t stand how we’re treated. It’s a shame that our fathers and mothers are killed and we can’t see them anymore. It’s a shame that we have to go to their graveyard and bury them and we have tears and we shouldn’t have tears. We need our fathers and mothers to be by our side.
The council chambers erupted in applause and calls of "no justice, no peace" as Oliphant stepped down from the lectern.
Her remarks came amidst a contentious community meeting, in which speakers admonished city officials—and at least once, one another—for Charlotte's handling of Scott's death, as well as its response to the days of subsequent protests.
According to local news outlet WSOC, one protester told Charlotte mayor Jennifer Roberts that she doesn't "deserve to be the mayor of this fine city." Council member Al Alston is quoted by the station as saying "the unrest here has been decades in the making. Tuesday was the boiling point, and it's getting hotter."