NC Governor Declares State of Emergency as Protests Continue in Charlotte
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency in Charlotte on Wednesday as violent protests carried on for a second night.
McCrory said he would be activating the National Guard in Charlotte as demonstrators continued to protest over a police officer’s fatal shooting of an African-American man, Keith Lamont Scott, according to The Associated Press.
Charlotte officials said one civilian had been shot during the protests and was in critical condition. Before making a correction, the city had earlier said that the person was shot and killed, in what they described as a “civilian-on-civilian” confrontation, according to The New York Times.
The gathering on Wednesday had initially started out as a prayer vigil, but that descended into chaos when some participants decided to leave to march through downtown, said the AP.
Protests began quietly downtown on Wednesday afternoon, with chants of “Black lives matter!” and “No justice, no peace!”
But they suddenly escalated as demonstrators moved into a central commercial zone flanked by expensive hotels and the Spectrum Center sports arena.
Police in riot gear fired rounds of tear gas to disperse the crowds on Wednesday night, though officials have emphasized they did not fire any shots. At least six officers have suffered minor injuries, paramedics said.
Accounts from several news outlets describe protesters attacking reporters, breaking windows, and starting fires. One journalist was knocked down by an activist during a live shot, said the AP.
“I covered Ferguson, I covered Baltimore, I covered Milwaukee. This is by far the worst violence and worst property damage in the past five years of covering stuff like this,” Marcus DiPaulo, a photographer on the scene, told CNN.
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About a dozen police officers and protesters also sustained injuries in a demonstration Wednesday morning that involved activists blocking the I-85 highway and trying to break into a Walmart, according to Reuters. Local media reported that police at the time used flash grenades to try to call for order.
Conflicting accounts have emerged about the circumstances of Scott’s shooting on Tuesday. Police say he was carrying a gun and resisted demands to drop the weapon when they approached him in an apartment complex parking lot, while Scott’s family contends the father of seven was only holding a book as he waited for his son to be dropped off from school.