Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Anger Simmers in Charlotte as 2 Narratives of Police Shooting Take Hold

The following excerpts are taken from the NY Times article "Anger Simmers in Charlotte as 2 Narratives of Police Shooting Take Hold" (Sept 21, 2016)

>> CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A night of violent clashes between the authorities and protesters after the fatal police shooting of an African-American man left North Carolina’s largest city on edge Wednesday, as competing narratives began to take hold and residents here braced for the possibility of further unrest.

Officials in Charlotte urged calm and reiterated their position that the Tuesday afternoon shooting of the man, Keith L. Scott, 43, occurred after he posed an “imminent deadly threat” to police officers. But at the University City apartment complex where Mr. Scott was killed, critics of the city government suggested that investigators were covering up a murder, and cast doubts on the police’s account.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Kerr Putney, chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, said officers had found the gun that the police said Mr. Scott had brandished before an officer fatally shot him and were examining police video of the encounter between Mr. Scott and officers as Mr. Scott stepped out of a car.

[...] While family members of Mr. Scott have said that he was unarmed, and was holding only a book, Chief Putney said Wednesday morning, “We did not find a book.”

About an hour later, John Barnett, a civil rights activist in Charlotte, said during a raucous news conference near the site of the shooting that Mr. Scott had simply been waiting for his son to arrive home from school.

“The truth of the matter is, he didn’t point that gun,” Mr. Barnett said. “Did he intend to really sit in a vehicle, waiting on his son to get home from school and then plot to shoot a cop if they pulled up on him?”

[...] Some [residents of the apartment complex] gave a different account from the police of which officer had fired the fatal shots, and others said that no one had tried to administer C.P.R. on Mr. Scott as officials had said.

Some activists demanded an economic boycott of Charlotte, a hub of commerce and culture in North Carolina.

“Since black lives do not matter for this city, then our black dollars should not matter,” said B. J. Murphy, another Charlotte activist. “We’re watching a modern-day lynching on social media, on television and it is affecting the psyche of black people.”

Mr. Murphy added: “Everybody in Charlotte should be on notice that black people, today, we’re tired of this bull. We’re tired of being killed and nobody saying nothing. We’re tired of our political leaders going along to get along; they’re so weak, they don’t have no sympathy for our grief. And we want justice.”

[...] Mr. Murphy said pointedly that he expected more demonstrations.

[...] Later, a chant of “Hands up! Don’t shoot” began. A man, deep into the crowd, shouted his gloomy assessment: “If you put your hands up, they’re still going to shoot.”

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday that the Justice Department “is aware of, and we are assessing, the incident that led to the death of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte.”

On Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, protesters blocked Interstate 85 and looted material from a tractor-trailer before setting the cargo ablaze, Chief Putney said. Other demonstrators threw rocks at officers, causing at least 16 injuries and damage to several police cars. The police made one arrest and used tear gas to disperse protesters.

[...] The protests began in the University City neighborhood in northeast Charlotte, near the University of North Carolina at Charlotte campus. WSOC-TV reported that looters later moved off the highway and tried to break into a Walmart before officers arrived in force to keep them out, and at least one family driving on Interstate 85 reported that their car’s windshield had been shattered by demonstrators throwing rocks.

In a series of Twitter posts, Mayor Jennifer Roberts urged calm and promised a thorough investigation into the death of Mr. Scott.

[...] Although their accounts sometimes diverged, members of Mr. Scott’s family generally told local news outlets that he had not had a weapon. Instead, they said, he had been clutching a book while waiting to pick up a child after school.

[...] The shooting in Charlotte this week was the latest in a string of deaths of black people at the hands of the police that have stoked outrage around the country. It came just a few days after a white police officer in Tulsa, Okla., fatally shot Terence Crutcher, a black man who was unarmed and could be seen on video raising his hands above his head. The encounters, many of them at least partly caught on video, have led to intense debate about race relations and law enforcement.

[...] On Facebook, a woman who identified herself as Mr. Scott’s daughter said the police had fired without provocation.

“The police just shot my daddy four times for being black,” the woman said moments into a Facebook Live broadcast that lasted about an hour. Later in the broadcast, she learned that her father had died and speculated that the police were planting evidence. [...] <<


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