State of emergency declared in Charlotte after protests
RACIAL tensions in the United States have reached boiling point after protests in Charlotte against police killings of black men turned increasingly violent, forcing the North Carolina governor to declare a state of emergency in the city.
The protests began on Tuesday after a police officer killed Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old black man.
His death followed another police killing of a black man in Tulsa on Friday, Terence Crutcher. Protests are also ongoing in the Oklahoma city. The protests in Charlotte late on Wednesday saw one person critically injured after being shot. Police said that victim, who they did not identify, was shot by a civilian.
Authorities have been attempting to quell public anger after Scott’s death, with police in riot gear firing tear gas at protesters and arresting those they accuse of violence.
Mark Thompson, a radio host of Make it Plain, a show focusing on human rights, told Al Jazeera: “This is tragic. It’s a very sad night for the people of Charlotte. As Dr [Martin Luther] King said, so-called riots are the language of the unheard. It’s an extension and direct result of the modern-day lynching of Keith Lamont Scott.”
With officials refusing to release any video of Scott, anger built as two very different versions emerged.
Police say Scott disregarded repeated demands to drop his gun, while neighbourhood residents say he was holding a book, not a weapon, as he waited for his son to get off the school bus.
“You have to wonder what is the real rioting going on?” Thompson said.
“Is this a good old-fashioned police riot, with all the violence being carried out against African Americans? We [African Americans] have to ponder every day whether we are going to make it home safely or whether we are going to be victims of the police.”
While a police video of the fatal shooting of Scott has not been released, a video showing the moment Crutcher died in the Tulsa shooting was made available for public viewing.
“We know [from that video] without a doubt Terence Crutcher had his hands in the air,” said Thompson.
The protests in Charlotte included shutting down the eight-lane Interstate 85 and burning the contents of a tractor-trailer.
Along with the man critically injured, paramedics said two other people and six police officers suffered minor injuries.
Alan Fisher, reporting from Charlotte, said: “They [protesters] want to make the point that what happened [Tuesday’s police shooting] is unacceptable.”
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory announced late on Wednesday that he was accepting a request from Charlotte’s police chief, declaring a state of emergency and calling in the National Guard and state troopers to help restore order and protect downtown.
Protesters have been chanting “Black lives matter” and “Hands up; don’t shoot”.
But some clashes between protesters and police saw officers fire flash grenades and marchers throw fireworks in return.
Video of a solidarity protest in New York showed protesters chanting slogans and carrying placards reading: “Black lives matter” and “Stop the war on black America”. — Al Jazeera —
A woman displays her hands during a rally/ prayer vigil at Marshall Park in Charlotte, North Carolina. AP