A white man is murdered while working in a black neighborhood. The media calls it a “robbery.” If the races had been reversed, this would be the biggest news story in the country. All media outlets would be screaming that it was a “racially motivated murder.”
Matt Hawkins could fix anything with his hands and loved renovating houses.
In December, Hawkins bought his most recent fixer-upper, a small frame house on East 17th Street in Charlotte’s Belmont community just northeast of uptown. He owned at least one other house in Belmont, on 19th Street, and was trying to improve the long-troubled neighborhood.
Hawkins, 39, was renovating the 17th Street house with his girlfriend Tuesday afternoon when an armed robber demanded money and then shot him in the head. He died Thursday night at Carolinas Medical Center, and the suspect is still at large.
A decade ago, Belmont was notorious for crime. It still is, though crime has decreased over the past decade and is attracting people like Hawkins who are investing their time and money in making it better.
“I’d definitely say it’s improved over the years,” said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Lt. Tonya Arrington, whose area includes Belmont. “…We’ve got some people in the community working really hard to benefit the community.”