Riot police dispersed rowdy protesters on Wednesday in Charlotte, North Carolina. Law Enforcement authorities shot and seriously wounded one person, officials said. It was the second night of disorder after the fatal shooting of a black man under doubtful circumstances.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory announced state of emergency in the state’s largest city after Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney requested for help. She called in the National Guard and state Highway Patrol troopers to help restore peace and order.
“We’re trying to disperse the crowd.” Putney said. “We’ve been very patient, but now they’ve become very aggressive, throwing bottles and so forth, at my officers, so it’s time for us to restore order.”
The hostilities began when a peaceful prayer vigil turned into a furious demonstration as a man was shot and critically wounded. This happened when protesters rushed riot police protecting an exclusive hotel in downtown Charlotte. City officials, however, denied claims that police shot the man.
Police started shooting rubber bullets, tear gas, and flash-bang grenades while protesters threw debris and hurled fireworks at officers outside the hotel.
Even innocent individuals were not spared the bloodshed as two employees of the nearby Hyatt Hotel were punched as hotel windows and glass doors were smashed, according to the hotel manager.
This latest incident caused injuries to sixteen officers.
The violence ensued in the midst of uncertainties regarding the death of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott. Police shot and killed him in the parking lot of his condominium complex. The officers said he had a gun and rebuffed continued demands to drop his firearm. Neighbors and family members attest that he was holding a book. Police have not released any footage of the incident.
Gun found but no book
Putney insists that they did not find a book but rather, they did find a gun beside Scott. However, Charlotte resident Taheshia Williams said that she saw the whole incident from her balcony. The elevated position overlooks the parking lot where police shot Scott. She said that Scott asked the police what he had done wrong. She did not hear the reply but then heard four shots right after.
The American Civil Librties Union pressed the police to release the dashboard and body camera footage of the incident as Black pastors and activists called for an economic boycott of the city.