In Charlotte, National Guard Descends on Community Seeking Justice and Answers
Demonstrators in Charlotte, NC confront riot police for a second night after the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott
The National Guard and State Highway Patrol were deployed Thursday morning in uptown Charlotte after another night of demonstrations captured the community's grief and outrage over the recent police killing of Keith Lamont Scott.
Scott's family said they are seeking answers as well as justice and on Thursday they are expecting to watch a video depicting his shooting death. Both the ACLU and the local chapter of the NAACP asked for that footage to be made public after police claimed the 43-year-old, father of seven was armed and "posed an imminent deadly threat" while he waited at his child's bus stop—directly contradicting the family, who said he did not possess a gun.
"After listening to remarks made by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Putney...we have more questions than answers about Keith's death," read a statement put forth by Scott's wife, Rakeiya Scott, Wednesday evening. "Rest assured, we will work diligently to get answers to our questions as quickly as possible."
"As a family," Scott continued, "we respect the rights of those who wish to protest, but we ask that people protest peacefully. Please do not hurt people or members of law enforcement, damage property or take things that do not belong to you in the name of protesting."
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, echoed those concerns. In a statement Wednesday, Barber called for the "full release of all facts available" and asked that the city "be transparent with any video and any additional information...that can bring light in the tragic death of Mr. Keith Lamont Scott at the hands of a Charlotte police officer."
"We support those who exercise the right to peacefully protest, and encourage the first amendment right to call for redress of wrongs," he added. "We stand against efforts that undermine the legitimate calls for justice with unjust, random or purposeless acts of violence."
Following the Tuesday afternoon shooting, the city of Charlotte exploded with demonstrators clashing with police in riot gear. The protests continued Wednesday evening, intensifying after one of the demonstrators was severely injured in the melee.
Though police reported the incident was "civilian on civilian," the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice, whose members witnessed the protests, issued a statement saying "we believe he was shot by police. We would like to see surveillance video from the surrounding area that may have captured the shooting to determine who was responsible for the shooting," according to the Charlotte Observer.
Police in riot gear reportedly fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the demonstrators. North Carolina's Republican governor, Pat McCrory, called a State of Emergency late Wednesday and, the Observer reported, the National Guard began to patrol streets around 8am on Thursday. Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts told Good Morning America on Thursday that the city is also talking about implementing a curfew.
But while those aggressive measures may temper protests, the frustration felt in the black community only continues to grow.
"This is a rebellion, because people just can't take it anymore," said labor and community activist Dhruv Pathak, who took part in the protests.
"I'm angry and I am upset," another protester told reporters, "but this is not the end. I'm outraged at the simple fact that this community and society and nation can sit comfortably in their homes while this is taking place."
"This has been going on for the last 50 years and the only reason it's heard now in 2015 is because social media is bringing it right to the front door," added demonstrator Calvin Howell, referring to the police killing of black people. Now, he said, "everybody is seeing it and everybody is tired of it."
"We play the police's salary," Howell continued, "we are paying for service and protection and we are being killed by the people we are paying to protect us. ...[W]e gotta do better than this. The police gotta do better."
The U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) confirmed to reporters that its Community Relations Service will be sending staffers to Charlotte. The DOJ has also launched an investigation into the death of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man who was shot and killed by police in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Friday.