A black man who was passing out campaign material outside a Steele Creek polling place said he was confronted Wednesday by three white people –two men and a woman –who pelted him with racial slurs and threats of violence.
Police later arrested one of the men and charged him with ethnic intimidation, communicating threats, disorderly conduct and going armed to the terror of the people.
Derek Partee, who was passing out campaign material in support of Republican candidates, said he believes the confrontation had more to do with race than politics.
“This isn’t about being Republican or Democrat,” he said. “This is about just being black.”
Partee said he and his wife moved to Charlotte six years ago after each retired from the Nassau County Police Department in New York. For the last year, he said, he has been a GOP volunteer in the 12th Congressional District, where Republican candidate Paul Wright is trying to unseat Democratic Rep. Alma Adams.
Partee said he was passing out campaign material outside the Steele Creek polling station on Wednesday when a volunteer for the Democratic party pointed out that a man in the parking lot appeared to be taking pictures of the polling site, where voters were casting early ballots. Another volunteer, he said, confirmed that the man had been there with a camera previously.
“They just looked out of character to me,” Partee told Qcitymetro. “Mind you, this is no vacation spot, and there is definitely no bird watching in this area.”
Partee said he decided to casually walk toward the subjects’ car to maybe get a better description or to get a picture of the license plate. That’s when the situation grew tense.
Partee said one of the men confronted him and demanded to know why he had approached the car. At some point during the verbal confrontation, Partee said, the two men blocked the car’s license plate and began to pelt him with racial slurs. Partee said he also saw that one of the men had a gun holstered to his hip. (Police later confiscated the weapon, which turned out to be a BB gun.)
Partee said that a woman who was with the two men came out of the polling site and that she, too, began to pelt him with racial slurs before the three got into the car and sped off.
On his Facebook page, Partee later posted photos he said he took during the encounter.
“Down here in Steele Creek working the polls just threatened by two white males in a white female who called me a N—–, Black piece of shit and he exposed his weapon. I had to back off and call CMPD, folks are getting bold and forward in the time,” Partee said in the Facebook post.
He also sent the photos to CMPD after calling 911 to report the incident.
Police identified the man with the gun as 28-year-old Jason Donald Wayne, who was booked in Mecklenburg County jail. Public records show that he has been arrested at least three times previously in the county – once charged with simple assault, once charged with assaulting a female and once charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
A CMPD spokesman said no charges were filed against the other two people involved in the confrontation.
As a precaution, CMPD officers will be is conducting “scheduled zone checks” at all polling locations through the Nov. 6 election, the spokesman said.
Partee offered no theory about why the men were taking pictures outside the polling site, but he suggested that the current political environment may have had something to do with it.
“This thing has to be addressed, given the climate of today and how embolden certain people have gotten,” he said.