Chaos in Charlotte: State of emergency declared as violent protests escalate

One person was shot, and angry protesters vandalized police vehicles and businesses after a black man was shot by a police officer earlier this week.
September 22, 2016, 1:30pm
Photo by Jeff Siner/The Charlotte Observer/AP)

UPDATED 11:19 a.m. Thursday Sept. 21 Hundreds of demonstrators shouting "hands up; don't shoot" and "black lives matter" took to the streets Wednesday night, vandalized police vehicles, smashed storefront glass, and lobbed rocks at helmeted riot police in Charlotte, North Carolina, on a second night of unrest after the shooting of a black man by a police officer.

One person was shot and listed in critical condition and four police officers were injured. Police responded with rubber bullets, pepper spray, flash grenades and tear gas. Shortly before midnight, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency, and said he was initiating the deployment of the National Guard and Highway Patrol to reinforce local law enforcement. Speaking on Thursday on Good Morning America, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said the city was "talking about a curfew."


At a news conference, Police Chief Kerr Putney said there would be no curfew imposed on Thursday, because it was unnecessary to "definitively shut the city down."

He also said that the video shot from the dash camera of one of the police vehicles would be shown to the victim's family and would only be released to the public "when there is a compelling reason."

"Transparency is in the eye of the beholder" Putney said.

Putney added that the video doesn't definitively show Scott pointing a gun. Both the NAACP and the ACLU have called for the release of the video.

Local news outlets said that at least four journalists were injured during the unrest Wednesday night. WLTX in Columbia reported that its chief photographer and reporter were attacked by protesters.

At one point, police were reportedly so vastly outnumbered by protesters that they were forced to retreat into the lobby of an Omni hotel. Protesters tried to push their way through into the hotel, where police had blockaded the entrance.

Another city, another #, this time it's #KeithLamontScott
— Joshua Scott Albert (@jpegjoshua) September 21, 2016

At around 8:30 p.m., a loud gunshot punctuated the unrest. Police responded and found a person who had been shot, who was then transported to a nearby hospital. "Fatal shot uptown was civilian on civilian," the city of Charlotte tweeted. "@CMPD did not fire shot." The city later corrected their statement to say the victim was on life support and in critical condition.


Not all protests in Charlotte were violent. Students at the University of North Carolina staged a "die-in" to protest police violence.

Something beautiful is happening… #UNCC
— Erin (@erinedarcy) September 21, 2016

Protesters in Charlotte aren't buying the official narrative that local officials are using to explain the sequence of events leading to 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott's death, who police shot and killed while seeking a different person with an outstanding arrest warrant.

Two words: 'KANDY BAR' We definitely ain't gettin in tonight On the move. — PAID LEAVE (@kahranasaurus)September 22, 2016

The officer involved in the shooting said that Scott was armed and threatening; a witness at the scene contends that Scott was holding a book. Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said that a firearm was recovered at the scene, and that they will not release video while the investigation is ongoing. He also said on Wednesday that the officer who shot Scott wasn't wearing a body camera, but other officers at the scene were.

John Barnett, who runs a civil rights group called True Healing Under God — or THUG — told the Associated Press that releasing the video would be the only way for police to regain the community's trust. "Just telling us this is still under investigation is not good enough for the windows of the Wal-Mart."

The NAACP put out a statement on Wednesday expressing solidarity with "those mourning in the city of Charlotte," and calling for the release of video footage.

"We call for the full release of all facts available," wrote the NAACP. "We ask that the city of Charlotte be transparent with any video and any additional information held by the city that can bring light in the tragic death of Mr Keith Lamont Scott." The ACLU put out a similar statement.

Follow Tess Owen on Twitter: @misstessowen