Curfew being considered in US city of Charlotte amid riots, looting and clashes with police
Charlotte police use tear gas, rubber bullets and flash-bangs in bid to disperse looting protesters
An uneasy calm descended over the US city of Charlotte yesterday, as residents woke to a state of emergency and National Guard troops patrolling the streets.
After a second night of violent protests over the fatal police shooting of a black man, the mayor of the city in North Carolina said a curfew was being considered.
Some major businesses were asking their employees to stay home for the day as the city remained on a knife’s edge.
Police said 44 civilians were arrested and nine others were injured.
One person was on life support after being shot by a civilian late on Wednesday as police used tear gas, rubber bullets and flash-bang grenades to try to disperse demonstrators who looted stores and threw rocks, bottles and fireworks. 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 reject the official account of how Keith Scott, 43, was gunned down by a black police officer in the car park lot of an apartment complex on Tuesday afternoon.
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 yesterday told CNN he had seen video from the scene showing Scott holding a gun.
Scott’s wife, Rakeyia Scott, said on Wednesday evening that her family was “devastated” and had “more questions than answers” about the fatal shooting.
She said she respected the rights of those who wanted to demonstrate, and asked that they do so peacefully.
But the pleas appeared to go mostly unheeded as protesters smashed windows and glass doors at a downtown Hyatt hotel and punched two employees, the hotel’s manager said. The slogan “Black Lives Matter” was spray-painted on windows.
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Looters were seen smashing windows and grabbed items from a convenience store as well as a shop that sells athletic wear for the National Basketball Association’s Charlotte Hornets. Protesters also set fire to rubbish bins.
It was the second night of unrest in North Carolina’s largest city and one of the biggest US financial centres. Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Duke Energy all told employees not to venture into North Carolina’s largest city.
Governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency late on Wednesday, while Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts was considering a curfew.
“Any violence directed towards our citizens or police officers or destruction of property should not be tolerated,” McCrory said.
Additional reporting by Associated Press, Agence France-Presse