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Local News

Charlotte Fatal Police Shooting Protests Remain Nonviolent Saturday Night

ScottProtests.jpg
Jeff Siner
/
Charlotte Observer
A protester hugs a member of the National Guard.

Peaceful protests over a fatal police shooting of a black man continued throughout the day and into the night Saturday in Charlotte, even as police released videos of Tuesday’s fatal encounter.

Meanwhile, early Sunday, the city declared the Panthers game an “extraordinary event” meaning extra security is on the way. The game against the Minnesota Vikings is set for 1 p.m. at Bank of America Stadium; protesters were expected to be at the stadium.

By declaring the game an extraordinary event, the city can “modify its permitting process for activities such as parades and specifies particular items that are prohibited from being brought into certain boundaries of the event.”

Saturdays protests were peaceful even as several hundred protesters remained around Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department headquarters at about 12:15 a.m., some 15 minutes after a nightly curfew began. A half hour later, they began to disperse.

After 11 p.m., some in the crowd tried to march onto Interstate 277, but were stopped from doing so by police. But police also had stopped traffic on I-277 as protesters came near the highway. The highway was reopened by 11:50 p.m.

Protesters then marched down Caldwell Street past the NASCAR Hall of Fame while police cars blocked off Stonewall Street.

Earlier Saturday night, protesters again gathered in front of the Omni Hotel, the area where a protester was fatally shot Wednesday night. Police later charged a man in that case. National Guard members were nearby.

One of the protesters said, “They used to sic dogs on us and water hoses. Now they giving us martial law.”

Shortly after 11 p.m., Medic tweeted that it had treated three people in the uptown area for non-life-threatening injuries.

Some people were handing out goggles in case tear gas was deployed again. By around 10 p.m., however, all of the protests appeared peaceful.

Emmanuel Daniels, from Charlotte, who was marching with a bullhorn and leading some of the chants, said, “I want this community to be a community. No more fear, no more fear of cops. There’s kids in my neighborhood who are afraid to go outside.

“We’re doing what we need to do to keep it a peaceful march.”

Later, many marchers sat down in the middle of E. Sixth Street and had a moment of silence for Scott. By the time they got to Trade and Tryon Streets, they sat down and chanted, “Whose streets? Our streets.”

Some protesters were upset at CMPD’s decision not to release all of the video they have of the shooting.

The public release of police body- and dash-cam videos has been one of the main themes of several days of protests over the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott at a northeast Charlotte apartment complex parking lot. The officer who killed him, Brentley Vinson, also is black.

Efia Nwangaza, 69, wore red paint on her hands to symbolize “the struggle of our people for the past 500 years and the deaths of our people and the epidemic of police murders.

Nwangaza said she drove from Greenville, S.C., with two other members of the Greenville chapter of Black Lives Matter.

Seeking change

Earlier Saturday, Charlotte religious leaders called for peaceful protests while pledging to work for long-term change.

“We have lost confidence and trust in the handling of this situation” of Scott’s death, said NAACP member the Rev. Milton Williams Jr., speaking hours before the video was released. “There is anger and unrest in our city, which is legitimate.”

Local religious leaders also called for an end of the state of emergency for Charlotte and the removal of the National Guard.

“Our citizens have felt as if this is a militarized state,” Charlotte NAACP leader the Rev. Corine Mack said.

The CMPD said it was not releasing all of the video it had of the incident, and Mack said that was a mistake. “There should be full transparency....If you do it piecemeal here and there, that does not help in the rebuilding of trust.

“We really need to get past this (video) conversation to the bigger conversation, about African-Americans being killed and no one is held accountable,” Mack said.

Mack also said she had misspoke earlier in the day when she said the U.S. Justice Department had launched a preliminary investigation into the Scott case. The department is monitoring the situation, she said. The DOJ has previously told McClatchy that the agency’s Community Relations Service was sending staffers to Charlotte.

Local clergy and leaders with the NAACP also called on Gov. Pat McCrory and state lawmakers to repeal HB 972, the North Carolina law that generally restricts the public from seeing police body camera footage without a court order directing its release.

Heavy police presence remains

Charlotte residents and visitors can expect continued heavy police and National Guard presence in uptown throughout the weekend, as well as ongoing demonstrations by hundreds of protesters who have remained largely peaceful during the past two days of activity.

Ryan and Charlene Shipman drove in from Michigan on Wednesday to visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but said they only felt safe enough to do so on Saturday afternoon. Outside the hall, they shook hands with and thanked National Guard members standing near a Humvee.

A midnight-to-6 a.m. curfew was in place again Saturday night, meaning mobility around the city was restricted. The curfew is in place for the duration of the state of emergency unless Mayor Jennifer Roberts decides to rescind the curfew.

Local and state resources have combined to deploy armed personnel in Charlotte’s business district over the past several days to protect property and residents and visitors.

Saturday evening, city officials, community leaders and local clergy held a gathering at the city’s government center. Josh Toman, professor at Charlotte School of Law, asked, “How do we make sure we have the follow-up after this is over? We don’t need Washington, D.C., telling us what to do, how to solve this problem.”

Faith leaders at the event also said they were taking doughnuts to police officers and soldiers, trying to practice “donut diplomacy” in the community.

Several events for Saturday were canceled or rescheduled, including the Charlotte Heart Walk, the “I Love the ‘90s” event at Spectrum Center, and Ben Rector’s concert at the Fillmore.

Friday night’s protests left little to no physical mark on Charlotte’s urban core – a stark contrast to sporadic looting, vandalism and violence resulting from protests earlier in the week. CMPD continue to look for looting suspects shown in security camera footage.

Police made a protest-related arrest Friday, charging a 21-year-old man with murder, following a Wednesday night shooting that left 26-year-old Justin Carr dead. Carr was shot in the head near the Omni Hotel in uptown. He died Thursday.

Other arrests Friday included 11 total during nighttime protest activities, according to CMPD. Nine were charged with curfew offenses. Other charges ranged from breaking and entering to disorderly conduct, police records show.