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On Scene: Uprising in Charlotte Started Peacefully

The tension in Charlotte N.C., has grown since news of the police-involved shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott has spread across the nation. City officials and community leaders are asking for calm as the public demands that video of the incident be released. Protests have ensued and have grown violent since Tuesday.

Despite media accounts of the unrest in Charlotte, N.C., most of the protests have been civil and diverse in age and ethnicity. The largest have been around Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police headquarters, Marshall Park and other parts of the downtown area.

By night, the city is hugely different. Peaceful gatherings are dwarfed by smashed storefronts, protestors clashing with police and our beautiful downtown that now reflects a war zone.

For example, Wednesday at Marshall Park, a crowd of roughly 200 gathered for what started as a prayer vigil at about 5:30 p.m. Police told JETMag.com the group, due to its large size, eventually broke into three separate groups. The first relocated to a nearby church, the second towards police headquarters — where they first became belligerent, but eventually calmed down and dispersed, and the third made its way toward downtown Charlotte. Around 8:30 p.m. the gathering of the third group became violent as a group of locals began to act disruptively.

Police said the victim of a shooting during the protests was an African-American male  and attributed the gunfire to “radical” protesters assembled downtown, who were captured in photo and video images.  The victim, Justin Carr, 26, died on Thursday. Police arrested Rayquan Borum, 21, who was charged with murder. At least five officers were also injured in the mayhem.

Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Duke Energy, three of the city’s largest employers – all with downtown offices – had been closed down on Wednesday. Other businesses are also affected including the NASCAR Hall of Fame, a United Way office, the Charlotte Hornets NBA store and a pre-school all of which reported smashed storefront windows.

“People are watching how we respond and how we act,” said CMPD Chief Kerr Putney in an earlier news conference. Today, CMPD announced the Scott family will be allowed to view the shooting video.

Meanwhile, the city remains in a state of emergency, which was declared by Gov. Pat McCrory on Wednesday.


Image: Demonstrators sit on a street during a protest of Tuesday’s fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, N.C. AP / Chuck Burton

This story has been updated.