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Charlotte Protests Turn Violent, Prompt State of Emergency

Image: Charlotte Protests Turn Violent, Prompt State of Emergency

Protesters attack a vehicle in Charlotte on Wednesday night. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Thursday, 22 Sep 2016 07:20 AM

Violent protesters rampaged through parts of downtown Charlotte on Wednesday night, prompting North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory to declare a state of emergency and call in the National Guard after the police chief of the state's largest city said he needed help.

A peaceful prayer vigil turned into an angry march and then a night of violence after a protester was shot and critically wounded as people charged police in riot gear trying to protect an upscale hotel in Charlotte's typically vibrant downtown, reported The Associated Press.

The unrest following Tuesday afternoon's fatal shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott by a black officer took many by surprise in Charlotte, the banking capital of the South with a population of 830,000 people, about 35 percent of them black.

On Wednesday, hundreds of protesters who were shouting "black lives matter" and "hands up, don't shoot" left after police fired flash grenades and tear gas after the shooting. But several groups of a dozen or more protesters stayed behind, attacking people, including reporters, shattering windows to hotels, office buildings and restaurants and setting small fires.

At one point, television news helicopters showed protesters on the loop highway around downtown, trying to stop cars for several minutes before police arrived.

"My heart bleeds for what our great city is going through," McCrory said on WBTV-TV. He was mayor of Charlotte for 14 years before becoming governor.

Authorities said three people and four police officers were injured, but those figures had not been updated early Thursday morning. Videos and pictures on Twitter showed reporters and other people being attacked.

The violence happened amid questions about what happened when Scott was shot and killed in the parking lot of his condominium complex. Police did not release dashboard or body camera footage, but said Scott had a gun and refused several orders to drop his weapon. Scott's family and neighbors said he was holding a book.

Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney was angered by the stories on social media, especially a profanity-laced, hourlong video on Facebook, where a woman identifying herself as Scott's daughter screamed "My daddy is dead!" at officers at the shooting scene and repeating that he was only holding a book.

Putney was adamant that Scott posed a threat, even if he didn't point his weapon at officers, and said a gun was found next to the dead man. "I can tell you we did not find a book," the chief said.

Not long after the Facebook video was posted Tuesday night, the first night of destructive protests began near the shooting scene, about 15 miles northeast of downtown Charlotte. Dozens of demonstrators threw rocks at police and reporters, damaged squad cars, closed part of Interstate 85, and looted a stopped truck and set a fire. Authorities used tear gas to break up the protests.

After about four hours on Wednesday night, the violence began winding down. Hotel employees and security guards immediately started cleaning up broken glass.

But Charlotte remained on edge. Bank of America told its thousands of employees working in its 60-story skyscraper to stay home Thursday.

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
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Violent protesters rampaged through parts of downtown Charlotte on Wednesday night, prompting North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory to declare a state of emergency and call in the National Guard after the police chief of the state's largest city said he needed help.
charlotte, protests, violent, state of emergency
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2016-20-22
Thursday, 22 Sep 2016 07:20 AM
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