The Charlotte Riots

“I wasn’t there very long but I have never in my life been in a situation like that.  I’ve never seen a gun in someone’s hand before [and] I just kept thinking ‘this can’t be happening.’”  

Sophomore Kaede Bost recalled what it was like witnessing the beginning of the Charlotte riots.

The riots began on September 20 following the death of Charlotte resident Keith Lamont Scott.  Scott died after being shot by officer Brentley Vinson of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department.  The circumstances of the incident are still being debated.

The issue with Scott’s death is that there is there is no definitive visual evidence that can certainly tell if Scott had a gun or book in his hand.  There is dashboard video released of the incident, but the video doesn’t clearly show what Scott could have been holding onto.charlotte-riots-infographic

“I can tell you a weapon was seized, a handgun.  I can also tell you we did not find a book that has been made reference to,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said during a press conference.

“You can’t clearly define what, if anything is in his hands,” family attorney Justin Bamberg challenged.

Despite speculation of the circumstances surrounding Scott’s death, there was still public outrage.  There were demonstrations occurring all over the city.  Charlotte resident Ricky McCullough recalls not being able to go on the highway, and being unable to go to uptown Charlotte because of the many people protesting.  

McCullough also recalls the implementation of the city-wide curfew, the violent parts of the riots, the quiet parts of the riots, and the bringing in of the National Guard.

“[The] violent part happened Wednesday… the latter days were a lot more quieter,” McCullough said.  “When they brought in the National Guard, that was pretty damn scary.”

People showed their frustrations in many ways.  A mass demonstration was organized on I-85, a peaceful protest happened outside of the Bank of America stadium during the Panthers-Vikings game.  But there was also looting, and 26 year old Justin Carr did die during these events after being shot in the head.

“I feel like they could’ve done it a different type of way, but that’s the only way I guess they can get their message across about police brutality and killing innocent people for no reason.  We’ve been seeing that for a long time now, all throughout 2016,” RJR senior Cameron Brown said.

RJR junior Olivia Doyle has a different take on the situation.

“I think that they’re a display of unnecessary violence and while the topic of discussion is something that’s necessary, I don’t know that the way that people are going about expressing their opinions on it is necessarily the right way.”

McCullough believes that actions can be taken to move toward a solution to this problem like a police-public discussion group to heal the scars that their relationship has.  But one thing is for certain: “Nobody wants to hear about the killing…They weren’t protesting to play the ‘Black Card’…There’s bad black people and bad white people.  But there is also an underlying problem.”

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