State of emergency called to quell Charlotte unrest over police shooting of African-American man
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina
AA PhotoResidents of Charlotte, North Carolina, woke up to a state of emergency and the National Guard and State Highway Patrol deployed to their city on Sept. 22 after a second night of unrest sparked by the fatal police shooting of an African-American man.
According to police, Keith Scott, 43, was shot and killed by officers on Sept. 20 after he refused to drop a handgun. His family and a witness to the shooting said Scott was holding a book, not a firearm.
A peaceful rally in response to the shooting turned violent on Sept. 21 as protesters threw rocks and bottles at police in riot gear, smashed windows and doors and looted stores in downtown Charlotte, Reuters reported. Officers fired rubber bullets, tear gas, flash-bang grenades and used pepper spray to disperse the crowd.
One protester was shot and gravely wounded by a civilian, and four police officers suffered non-life threatening injuries, city officials said on Twitter.
It was the second night of unrest in North Carolina’s largest city, where several protesters and 16 officers were injured on the night of Sept. 20. The turmoil prompted Governor Pat McCrory to declare a state of emergency and deploy the National Guard and highway patrol officers to the city to help restore peace.
“Any violence directed toward our citizens or police officers or destruction of property should not be tolerated,” McCrory said in a statement.
Charlotte’s mayor Jennifer Roberts was considering a curfew as Bank of America told employees not to report to work at its uptown offices, local media reported.
There have also been protests in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in recent days demanding the arrest of a police officer seen in a video last week fatally shooting an unarmed African-American man who had his hands in clear view at the time.
The deaths add to a torrent of accusations over racial bias in U.S. law enforcement and calls for greater police accountability for the killings of African-Americans. A study by the Center for Policing Equity released in July shows police used force on African-Americans at rates more than three times higher than for whites.
U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by telephone on Sept. 21 with the mayors of Charlotte and Tulsa, a White House official said.
The American Civil Liberties Union urged police to release their camera footage of the incident. Police vehicles typically have a dashboard camera and officers are required to carry cameras on their persons.
Roberts said she planned to view the footage on Sept. 22, but did not indicate if or when it would be made public.
“We call for the full release of all facts available,” said William Barber, president of the state’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), in a statement.
Barber said NAACP officials planned to meet with city officials and members of Scott’s family on Sept. 22.