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Mon Sep 26 10:45:17 SAST 2016

Charlotte under siege

Reuters | 23 September, 2016 07:45
ON THE FRONTLINE: US police officers face off with demonstrators in downtown Charlotte for a second day as the North Carolina governor declared a state of emergency in the southern American city after clashes during protests in response to the fatal shooting by police officers of Keith Lamont Scott at an apartment complex.

At least nine people were injured and 44 people arrested in a second night of violent protests in Charlotte, North Carolina, the city's police chief said yesterday following the fatal police shooting of a black man this week.

One man remained in critical condition after being shot late on Wednesday, said Kerr Putney, the chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police. Police used teargas, rubber bullets and flash grenades to disperse demonstrators, who looted stores and threw rocks, bottles and fireworks.

Officials said the victim was shot by a civilian, but Putney acknowledged yesterday some claims that he was shot by a police officer.

"We're investigating to find the truth, the absolute truth as best as the evidence can show us," Putney said.

Four police officers suffered non-life threatening injuries, city officials said.

The latest trouble erupted after a peaceful rally earlier in the evening by protesters who rejected the official account of how Keith Scott, 43, was gunned down by a black police officer in the parking lot of an apartment complex on Tuesday afternoon.

The killing was the latest in a series of controversial fatal police shootings of black men across the US, sparking more than two years of protests asserting racial bias and excessive force by police and giving rise to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Scott's killing marked the 214th of a black person by police this year, according to Mapping Police Violence, an anti-police violence group.

Authorities say Scott was wielding a handgun and was shot after refusing commands to drop it. His family and a witness say he was holding a book, not a firearm, when he was killed.

A spokesman for the Charlotte Fraternal Order of Police told CNN yesterday he had seen video from the scene showing Scott holding a gun.

"It is important that we have a full and transparent investigation of the original incident," Charlotte mayor Jennifer Roberts told a press conference.

The pleas went unheeded. Overnight protesters smashed windows at a downtown Hyatt hotel and punched two employees, the hotel's manager said.

The slogan Black Lives Matter was spray-painted on windows.

Looters were seen smashing windows and grabbing items from a store as well as a shop that sells athletic wear for the Charlotte Hornets.

"We had a lot of looting at a lot of businesses," Putney said, adding that state police and National Guard troops would help to secure the area.


New York City mayor Bill de Blasio warned Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump yesterday against embracing the "stop and frisk" police tactic which, he said, would worsen relations between police and the community.

Trump praised the anti-crime tactic in which police stop, question and search pedestrians for weapons or contraband and said it "massively changed" the crime statistics in New York City.

But De Blasio attributed the sharp drop to the "broken windows" strategy - which emphasises the pursuit of crimes no matter how minor - adopted by Bill Bratton, the police commissioner who retired a week ago.


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