N.C. Governor Declares State Of Emergency After More Protests
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Here's the latest we know about last night's violence in Charlotte, N.C. People were on the streets protesting a police shooting earlier in the week and a shot rang out in that crowd. A civilian was wounded. The mayor of that city insists it was a civilian-on-civilian shooting - that police did not fire. Some in the crowd did not believe that. All of this grows out of a police shooting on Tuesday, and the circumstances there are in dispute. Last night, North Carolina's governor declared a state of emergency and called out the National Guard.
We have a portrait of Charlotte in this moment from Tom Bullock of our member station WFAE.
TOM BULLOCK, BYLINE: This latest round of protests started peacefully says 31-year-old Eddie Thomas.
EDDIE THOMAS: It was all cool. The bike cops was cool with it until riot cops came out. And once the riot cops came out, within five minutes, you had a young man on the ground bleeding.
BULLOCK: Thomas is a public defender here in Charlotte. He came, he said, to help keep the peace between protesters and police. But the peace was not kept.
THOMAS: You know, I saw that young man on the ground. I saw him eyes roll in the back of his head. I'll never get that image out of my mind, man.
INSKEEP: Thomas was talking about a still unidentified man who was shot and critically injured. City officials say it was a civilian, not a police officer, who fired the shot but offered no further details. There were hundreds of protesters on the street last night. Originally, it was about the police shooting death of a 43-year-old African-American named Keith Lamont Scott. He was killed Tuesday afternoon. Police say he was holding a gun. His family says he was holding a book. But the anger over Scott's death was quickly overtaken when word of last night's shooting spread from person to person. They, again, blame the police.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER #1: They want to hurt us. Y'all got all that armor. We ain't got on nothing.
BULLOCK: The situation escalated.
(SOUNDBITE OF BATONS HITTING RIOT SHIELDS)
BULLOCK: More riot police were called in, banging their batons against their shields as they walked in line before stopping at an intersection where protesters met them, yelling just inches from the officers' faces.
(SOUNDBITE OF UNINTELLIGIBLE YELLS)
BULLOCK: The police stood silently for a time then threw concussion grenades.
(SOUNDBITE OF BLAST)
BULLOCK: And tear gas canisters. A steady breeze carried the gas throughout the crowd.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER #2: Go. Run, run - [expletive] run.
BULLOCK: The protesters retreated down the street, regrouped and went back again and again.
Here comes round three of tear gas. The crowd is now throwing them back. The police then kick it back towards the crowd.
More would follow. Some protesters threw bottles of water, trash cans, even plants they ripped from the ground, at police. They smashed car windows and doors. At least four officers were injured. Today, some businesses are telling their employees to work from home. And with the governor's emergency declaration, members of the North Carolina National Guard will soon deploy on Charlotte's city streets.
For NPR News, I'm Tom Bullock in Charlotte, N.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.