State of emer­gency de­clared in Char­lotte after protests

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

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

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