Governor calls out National Guard as Charlotte police shooting protests continue

Police fired tear gas at protesters Wednesday night at the entrance to the Omni Hotel in uptown Charlotte.
Police fired tear gas at protesters Wednesday night at the entrance to the Omni Hotel in uptown Charlotte.

Protests turned violent for a second night in Charlotte after Tuesday’s fatal police shooting of a black man. Late Wednesday, Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency for the city and deployed the National Guard and State Highway Patrol troopers to assist local police.

One person was shot at the protest and was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, Medic said. The city initially reported that he died, but later retracted that, saying he was on life-support.

Medic said on Twitter that it was treating the patient for a gunshot wound en route to Carolinas Medical Center at about 8:45 p.m.

The person was shot in the area of North College and East Trade streets.

Medic said it was responding to “multiple incidents uptown related to the situation in the College Street area” but was no more specific.

The shooting was “civilian on civilian,” the city tweeted. “@CMPD did not fire shot.”

The Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice questioned the city’s account. The coalition said several of its members were just 10 feet from the victim when he was shot.

“I saw the man go down on the pavement,” Minister Steve Knight of Missiongathering Christian Church in Charlotte said in a statement from the coalition. “It was an ambush. The victim was shot while he stood between two ministers, and we believe he was shot by police. We would like to see surveillance video from the surrounding area that may have captured the shooting to determine who was responsible for the shooting.”

Moments earlier, police fired tear gas at protesters at the entrance to the Omni Hotel in uptown Charlotte. Loud booms sounded, and police said explosives had been used.

“Your life is in danger, you need to move!” police in riot gear yelled.

At 9:45 p.m., police fired rubber bullets at the crowd.

At the request of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney, the State Highway Patrol is sending in troopers to assist CMPD, Gov. Pat McCrory said late Wednesday.

“The state has many additional assets nearby to assist,” McCrory said. “Any violence directed toward our citizens or police officers or destruction of property should not be tolerated.”

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper said he spoke to Mayor Jennifer Roberts and offered her the full assistance of the N.C. Department of Justice. “Violence will not bring justice,” Cooper said. “I urge everyone in Charlotte tonight to heed the call for peaceful demonstration. Already tonight we have seen civilians, police and emergency responders injured. This must stop.”

Given the “ongoing civil unrest,” Bank of America told its employees not to report to their uptown offices on Thursday.

Shortly before 9 p.m., the Charlotte Area Transit System discontinued street car service, closed the uptown Transportation Center and moved it to Carson Street. Hours later, CATS stopped Lynx service and ended bus service at 12:30 a.m. Thursday.

CATS planned to operate normal bus/rail service later this morning.

Protests had remained peaceful in uptown on Wednesday, after the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. But the scene turned chaotic after 8:30 p.m., when protesters went from Marshall Park to the EpiCentre dining and entertainment complex and the Omni on Trade Street.

Businesses in the EpiCentre closed hours earlier in anticipation of the protests. Police also blocked off streets as the situation deteriorated outside the Omni. The Charlotte Hornets NBA team store, a CVS and the EpiCentre Sundries were later looted.

Several hundred protesters had gathered at the Omni before tear gas began scattering the crowd.

Protesters blocked Trade and Tryon streets at about 8 p.m. and then moved to the EpiCentre.

Hours earlier, a group of two dozen protesters stood silently in front of the Bank of America Tower at the same intersection. They held signs reading “Black Lives Matter” and “Stop Killing Us.”

Protesters then gathered outside Charlotte-Mecklenburg police headquarters before gathering at Marshall Park for a 7 p.m. rally.

Scott’s wife, meanwhile, issued a statement calling for protests to remain peaceful. Do not damage property, she urged.

The protest at Marshall Park was peaceful at 7:30 p.m.

Speakers using a bullhorn questioned why police shot Scott. Protesters said that even if Scott had a gun, as Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said, North Carolina is an open carry state where it is legal to have a firearm.

The protesters also criticized police for their response Tuesday night when officers used tear gas and batons to disperse crowds on Old Concord Road near where Scott was fatally shot.

“You were unprepared,” one protester yelled, addressing police. “You escalated it. … You came to us with billy clubs.”

Protesters have taken to the streets of Charlotte following the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott on Tuesday. Officials allege a black officer opened fire on Scott after he emerged from his car with a gun in the University City area. Family mem

Alex Gray of Charlotte said he was “not really big on chanting. But just to be here to support … I mean, there are a lot of people who have lost their lives for this reason or that reason. It’s just disheartening. It would be nice to see some change, obviously it’s not going to be anything that happens overnight, but it has to start somewhere. … If you’re not an actor, you’re a factor, so I’d rather be part of the movement than not.”

Master Allah of Charlotte said, “If you read (my sign), it says if we were really free, we wouldn’t be dealing with this. What it means is, in the history of America, we have never been seen as free. We wasn’t brought to this country to be equal, and now we’re at a point to where we’re being destroyed.

“I think with the power of media – Facebook, Twitter, all the social media – now it’s something that’s being seen on the daily. It can’t be denied. We gotta talk about it because we’ve got a real problem.”

Earlier Wednesday afternoon, pockets of the city were on edge, with some uptown businesses apparently sending workers home early over uncertainty about further protests. The Charlotte Chamber also urged businesses in uptown and University City to “remove or chain down all tables, chairs, signs or planters.”

At the afternoon silent protest at the Bank of America Tower, Andrew Monroe said the gathering was organized informally by a group of black professionals. “What we want to do is show we’re not dangerous,” he said. “We want to show the world it’s not thugs out here.”

Monroe said black people deserve to be safe in the streets and don’t feel the way in the spate of recent police shootings.

Across town at UNCC, students gathered at the Union and laid down in protest.