CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The city of Charlotte, North Carolina is under a state of emergency following violent rioting on the streets Wednesday night over a man who was shot and killed by police on Tuesday.
“Governor Pat McCrory has declared a state of emergency upon the request of Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney,” an official statement reads. “The governor has also initiated efforts to deploy the North Carolina National Guard and the State Highway Patrol to assist local law enforcement.”
According to reports, the night began with a prayer vigil in memory of Keith Lamont Scott, 48, who was allegedly armed and failed to drop his weapon when instructed by police. Scott’s family asserts that he was not holding a gun, but a book.
But Wednesday’s peaceful gathering soon turned violent as those angry about the loss of life began throwing bottles at police dressed in riot gear, jumping on vehicles, setting fire to trash cans, looting businesses and engaging in other acts of vandalism and destruction.
CNN reports that one masked man shattered a hotel window and others spray-painted “Black Lives Matter” on business windows.
“People found whatever objects they could to break glasses. It was madness,” witness Zach Locke told the outlet.
“Church leaders need to get out there and tell these kids that this is not the right way,” witness Annette Albright also stated.
Photographer Marcus DiPaola said that he saw protesters tip over an ATM machine and steal money from it.
One man was shot by a civilian and is now on life support, and two employees at the Hyatt House hotel were punched in the face. Several police officers were taken to the hospital for injuries as well.
Scott’s wife had asked for demonstrators to comport themselves peacefully prior to Wednesday’s mayhem, requesting in a statement, “Please do not hurt people or members of law enforcement, damage property or take things that do not belong to you in the name of protesting.”
“We cannot tolerate violence. We cannot tolerate the destruction of property and will not tolerate the attacks towards our police officers that are occurring right now, and I feel very strongly about that,” Gov. McCrory told reporters as violence broke out on the streets. “That is not the American way.”
Police pushed back with tear gas, rubber bullets and non-lethal grenades in an effort to disperse the crowd, and Mayor Jennifer Roberts appealed for protesters to go home.
“Last 24 hours of violent protest [were] worst I have ever seen in Charlotte,” Rep. Kelly Alexander Jr., D-Mecklenburg, remarked on social media.
A state of emergency was declared just before midnight. There were 44 arrests.
Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Duke Energy asked their employees to work from home on Thursday due to the unrest. The NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Charlotte Observer newspaper, Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant and the Westin hotel were all damaged in the violence.
The officer who shot Scott, Brentley Vinson, is now on paid leave pending an investigation. Both men are African American.