Charlotte, North Carolina had another round of protests last night concerning the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott during the service of a warrant on another person. These protests were comparatively peaceful compared to the rioting that took place earlier in the week.
There were contentious moments between demonstrators and police, but it was a far cry from the looting and destruction that was seen Wednesday night. Local officers’ ranks were augmented by members of the National Guard carrying rifles and guarding office buildings against the threat of property damage.
People chanted “release the tape” and “we want the tape” while briefly blocking an intersection near Bank of America headquarters and later climbing the steps in front of the city government center. Later, several dozen demonstrators climbed onto an interstate highway through the city, but they were pushed back by police in riot gear.
The North Carolina National Guard was deployed by Governor Pat McCrory. The Governor had declared a State of Emergency to be in effect for the city previously. Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts has, pursuant to the Governor’s declaration, imposed a curfew extending from 12:00AM to 6:00AM for the duration of the Emergency.
The slogans chanted by the protestors referenced the bodycam and dashboard cam footage recorded when Scott was shot by Officer Brentley Vinson on Tuesday. Vinson, like Scott, is African-American. Thus far, Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney has been unwilling to release the footage to the public. Putney was quoted in the Charlotte Observer as saying that the videos would be released “when we believe there is a compelling reason.” He said he supports transparency in the case, “but I never said full transparency…. If you think we should display a family’s worst day for public consumption, that is not the transparency we’re speaking of….” The Washington Post had an additional quote from him, that is evocative of Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon:
“I can tell you this: There’s your truth, my truth and the truth,” Putney said. “Some people have already made up their minds.”
The Video is Inconclusive
Although not released to the public, a number of parties have already viewed the footage, including the Chief, the Mayor, and members of Scott’s family. Oddly, they all appear to agree on one thing: the video does not provide damning evidence one way or another concerning whether Scott had a gun when confronted by police. Here’s what they had to say:
Scott family attorney Justin Bamberg: “It is impossible to discern from the videos what, if anything, Mr. Scott is holding in his hands.”
Chief Kerr Putney: “[The video does not provide] absolute, definitive visual evidence that would confirm that a person is pointing a gun. I didn’t see that in the videos I reviewed…. What I can tell you, though, is that, when taking in the totality of all the other evidence, it supports what we’ve heard and the version of the truth that we gave about the circumstances that happened that led to the death of Mr. Scott.”
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts: “[T]he videos are inconclusive.”
Police Arrest Rayquan Borum for Death of Justin Carr during Riots
In other related news, Charlotte police have announced that Rayquan Borum has been arrested in the shooting death of Justin Carr during the riots on Wednesday night.
What Gun for Civil Disorder?
RF reported today that there has been something of a buying spree in Charlotte for personal defense weapons as a result of the violence and asks: what’s the best personal defense firearm for dealing with a riot?
Carrying While Black?
People are starting to ask whether or not police are holding African-Americans to a different standard when it comes to exercising their rights protected under the Second Amendment. Monique Judge, writing for The Root asks why police were interacting with Scott in the first place in a state where constitutional open carry and licensed concealed carry is the law. Dean Weingarten reported that Corine Mack, the head of the NAACP in Charlotte came out in defense of African-Americans’ right to keep and bear arms, and talks about some statistics relating to race and violence.
It is good that the violence appears to be under control at last, but people are still angry and afraid, and a lot of questions remain to be answered about this incident before we can move on.