Day 3: Charlotte protesters ignore curfew, take to streets
Protesters took to Charlotte’s streets for a third straight night and defied a midnight curfew in the US city early Friday, amid heavy security aimed at preventing more clashes over the fatal police shooting of a black man.
Hundreds marched to the city police station, carrying signs saying “Stop killing us” and “Resistance is beautiful,” but the atmosphere was far calmer than the previous two nights.
Several hundred protesters remained on the street, following the midnight (0400 GMT) curfew, but security forces took a hands off approach and did not enforce the restriction.
Pressure was growing on police to release the video of the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old Afro-American, whose killing on Tuesday sparked the unrest. But members of Scott’s family watched the footage on Thursday, raising “more questions than answers,” their lawyers said.
Scott’s death was the latest in a string of police-involved killings of black men that have fueled outrage across the United States. He was the 214th black person killed by US police this year out of a total of 821, says Mapping Police Violence.
Critics have accused Charlotte authorities of a lack of transparency, compared with the swift action taken after a police shooting in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a white officer has been charged.
North Carolina’s governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlotte, and several hundred National Guard troops and highway police officers were deployed to reinforce local police protecting city infrastructure and businesses.
“We are going to be a lot more proactive,” Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney told a news conference. “We made 44 arrests last night because we are not going to tolerate the behavior,” he added.
Meanwhile, a protestor shot by a civilian in Wednesday night’s protests died in hospital on Thursday, local media reported. Protesters held an impromptu vigil on the sidewalk, where the man was hit by a bullet. They lit candles and offered prayers.
Scott was shot and killed in an apartment complex parking lot on Tuesday during an encounter with police officers searching for another person wanted for arrest.
Conflicting versions of what happened – police say Scott was armed with a handgun, while his family says he was holding a book – fueled the angry protests. The authorities have so far refused to release police video of the incident. No gun is visible in the video, which shows Scott stepping backward when he was shot, one of the lawyers told CNN.