State of emergency de­clared in Char­lotte amid protests

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

The North Car­olina gover­nor has de­clared a state of emergency in the city of Char­lotte, as un­rest con­tin­ues over the po­lice killing of a black man.

Vi­o­lence erupted for a sec­ond night af­ter Keith La­mont Scott was shot dead by a black of­fi­cer on Tuesday.

One pro­tester is in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion af­ter a “civil­ian on civil­ian” shoot­ing, the city said.

Mr Scott was the third black man killed by po­lice in a week. Such shoot­ings have sparked huge protests re­cently.

Riot po­lice in Char­lotte used tear gas as they faced hun­dreds of pro­test­ers. The lo­cal po­lice depart­ment said four of­fi­cers were in­jured.

Ear­lier North Car­olina Gover­nor Pat Mc­Crory said he had “ini­ti­ated ef­forts” to de­ploy the na­tional guard and high­way patrol to help deal with the protests.

“Any vi­o­lence di­rected to­ward our cit­i­zens or po­lice of­fi­cers or destruc­tion of prop­erty should not be tol­er­ated,” he said.

The de­mon­stra­tors are an­gry that Mr Scott, 43, was killed by po­lice on Tuesday af­ter­noon at a block of flats in dis­puted cir­cum­stances.

Po­lice were serv­ing an ar­rest war­rant on an­other per­son when they say they saw Mr Scott get out of a car with a hand­gun.

Of­fi­cers say he was re­peat­edly told to drop his hand­gun be­fore he was shot but his fam­ily say he was read­ing a book, as he waited for his son to be dropped off by the school bus.

Dash-cam footage of the in­ci­dent will be viewed by Char­lotte’s mayor but not re­leased to the pub­lic “at that time”, the city said.

It is le­gal to openly carry a hand­gun in North Car­olina, but a spe­cial per­mit is re­quired to carry a con­cealed weapon.

Gover­nor Mc­Crory de­clared the state of emergency as ri­ot­ers clashed with po­lice, break­ing win­dows and set­ting small fires.

The sec­ond night of protests had be­gun peace­fully but the de­mon­stra­tion was in­ter­rupted by gun­fire and a man in the crowd was in­jured. The city ini­tially said he had been killed but then is­sued a clar­i­fi­ca­tion.

Pro­test­ers then threw bot­tles and fire­works at the of­fi­cers, who were lined up in riot gear. Po­lice fired flash grenades and tear gas to re­pel the crowds.

Sev­eral jour­nal­ists were also re­port­edly at­tacked. A re­porter and cam­era­man for Char­lotte’s WCNC-TV were taken to hos­pi­tal and a CNN jour­nal­ist was tack­led on live TV, lo­cal me­dia re­port.

Po­lice in Char­lotte de­fended their ac­tions in the death of Mr Scott by in­sist­ing he had been re­peat­edly warned to drop his gun.

Char­lotte-Meck­len­burg Po­lice Chief Kerr Put­ney told a news con­fer­ence Mr Scott first got out of the car with a gun, then got back into his ve­hi­cle when of­fi­cers told him to drop his weapon.

He was shot when he emerged from his car hold­ing his weapon. The po­lice chief was un­able to say if Mr Scott had been point­ing his weapon at of­fi­cers.

Af­ter her fa­ther’s death, Mr Scott’s daugh­ter posted a video on Face­book in which she said her fa­ther had been un­armed and read­ing a book.

Mr Put­ney said no book was found.

The Mayor of Char­lotte, Jen­nifer Roberts, voiced her shock at the vi­o­lent protests, which saw 16 po­lice of­fi­cers in­jured on Tuesday night.

“Char­lotte is a city that has worked very hard to build good com­mu­nity po­lice re­la­tions,” she told the BBC.

“We have been a model of com­mu­nity polic­ing. We have ac­tu­ally trained other po­lice forces. This is not who we are as Char­lot­teans and I’m hop­ing we can move past these protests very quickly, move into more peace­ful protests and back into di­a­logue.”

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