Riots Erupt in the Streets of Charlotte

By Melissa Ruby, National News Writer

It has only been a little over a month since race riots erupted in Milwaukee, Wisconsin after a police officer shot and killed a black man. Yet, this past week has presented another similar situation half way across the county, in the streets of Charlotte, North Carolina. On Tuesday, September 23, 2016, Charlotte-Mecklenberg police officer Brentley Vinson shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott, 43, after an incident in which Scott was not responding to the officers’ commands and presented, in threatening  fashion, what seemed to the officers to be gun. After several commands from police to Scott to put his hands up and “drop the gun,” shots were fired and Scott was fatally wounded in front of his wife, Rikeya Scott.

On the Friday following the incident, the New York Times released a video taken by Rikeya Scott of the events leading up to the shooting and the moments directly following. There is still no footage available of the actual shooting, however, as Ms. Scott’s camera shot falls downward just preceding the shooting. However, throughout the video one can hear Rikeya Scott shouting to the police “Don’t shoot him!” and begging her husband to get out of the car. She also revealed that her husband had suffered a traumatic brain injury, insisting that Keith did not have a gun and that “He just took his medicine”. According to reporting by CNN, the Scott family revealed that “he [Keith] was in a near-death motorcycle crash last year, and that it left him disabled.”

As a result of this shooting incident, riots were incited in the streets of Charlotte, North Carolina. Many felt that this incident was just another act of police brutality and racism against African Americans, and brought back to life the chant of “Black lives matter!” and “Hands-up, don’t shoot!” Protests began on Tuesday evening and erupted into riots, which continued into Wednesday. WBTV reported that by 7:15 pm, police had made ten arrests. As the night progressed, several people were injured—including sixteen police officers—causing the Charlotte-Mecklenberg police to deploy tear gas on the protesters in an attempt to disperse the crowds, according to WSOC-TV.

Wednesday night, however, was no better. In fact, it turned out to be even worse. The evening started with a prayer vigil in the parking lot where Keith Scott was killed, but quickly escalated in intensity. Rioters threw rocks at businesses and police officers, vandalized businesses and cars, and one civilian even shot another civilian engaging in the protest. The victim was originally reported to have died, but it seems he survived after being brought to the hospital. A video posted on YouTube, presents another instance of violence in Charlotte. It shows a group of black men assaulting and dragging a white man through a parking garage as he begs for mercy. During the night, a mob also managed to stop traffic on a local highway and loot a Walmart. Following the second night of violence, Governor Pat McCory declared a state of emergency at 12:30 am and National Guard troops were sent in to help quell the situation.

The situation quieted down some on Thursday night. While people were still protesting, the participants remained relatively peaceful. On Thursday evening, the family of the victim was shown the body cam footage, which seems to have calmed some of the anger, however, the family is still pursuing the issue. On Friday, however, another police shooting of a black male—in Tulsa, Oklahoma—seems to have presented another opportunity for concern.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 27th print edition.

Contact Melissa at

melissa.ruby@student.shu.edu

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