CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Reuters) – One person was shot dead yesterday in a second night of unrest in Charlotte, North Carolina, officials said, as police in riot gear fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a demonstration against the fatal police shooting of a black man who officers said had refused their orders to drop a handgun.
Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney confirmed the fatality, but he did not identify the person nor did he say whether they were participating in the protests. The latest trouble began with a peaceful rally that turned violent after several hundred demonstrators marched through downtown with brief stops at a black church, police headquarters and a large entertainment venue called the EpiCentre.
As they approached downtown Charlotte’s central intersection, protesters confronted a column of patrol cars and officers lining the road about a block from the Omni Charlotte Hotel, and began to surround groups of police and their vehicles.
At that point, police unleashed volleys of rubber bullets, tear gas and flash-bang grenades to disperse the protesters, who began hurling fireworks and debris at officers outside the hotel. Protesters were also seen looting a convenience store after smashing its windows.
Sixteen officers were injured late on Tuesday and early yesterday as police in riot gear clashed with demonstrators who hurled stones, set fires and briefly blocked an interstate highway.
“We are tired of people, especially police, killing our black men,” Blanche Penn, a longtime community activist, said at Wednesday evening’s rally, where the mood began as resolute but peaceful. “Charlotte has always been quiet. But now it’s time to be loud.”
Widely differing accounts of Tuesday’s shooting emerged the next day. Police said Keith Scott, 43, was armed and ignoring officers’ orders when he was gunned down, while the victim’s family and a witness said he was holding a book, not a weapon.