One protester was shot and gravely wounded by a civilian, and four police officers suffered non-life threatening injuries, after what was initially a peaceful rally in response to the fatal police shooting of a black man, Keith Scott, turned violent on Wednesday for the second day in a row, as protesters threw rocks and bottles at police in riot gear, smashed windows and doors and looted stores in downtown Charlotte. Officers fired rubber bullets, tear gas, flash-bang grenades and used pepper spray to disperse the crowd.
As we noted last night, a civilian was shot Wednesday CBS affiliate WBTV reported. City officials say police did not fire on the victim. Several reporters and people on the street were attacked as police in riot gear linked arms, marched down streets and fired tear gas.
As a result of the ongoing violence, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency and deployed the National Guard and State Highway Patrol to Charlotte on Thursday to help restore peace.
"Any violence directed toward our citizens or police officers or destruction of property should not be tolerated," McCrory said in a statement.
Charlotte's mayor Jennifer Roberts was considering a curfew as Bank of America told its thousands of employees at its 60-story downtown skyscraper to stay home Thursday.
There have also been protests in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in recent days demanding the arrest of a police officer seen in a video last week fatally shooting an unarmed black man who had his hands in clear view at the time.
The deaths add to a torrent of accusations over racial bias in U.S. law enforcement and calls for greater police accountability for the killings of black people.
President Barack Obama spoke by telephone on Wednesday with the mayors of Charlotte and Tulsa, a White House official said.
There were hints earlier Wednesday that Charlotte would suffer a second night of destruction. As Charlotte’s white mayor and black police chief stood at City Hall and appealed for calm, African-American leaders who said they were speaking for Scott’s family held their own news conference near where he was killed Tuesday, reminding the crowd of other shootings and abuses of black men.
John Barnett, who runs a civil rights group called True Healing Under God, or THUG, warned that the video might be the only way for the police to regain the community’s trust: “Just telling us this is still under investigation is not good enough for the windows of the Wal-Mart.”
According to Reuters, the American Civil Liberties Union urged police to release their camera footage of the incident. Police vehicles typically have a dashboard camera and officers are required to carry cameras on their persons.
Roberts said she planned to view the footage on Thursday, but did not indicate if or when it would be made public. "We call for the full release of all facts available," said William Barber, president of the state's chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), in a statement.
Barber said NAACP officials planned to meet with city officials and members of Scott's family on Thursday.
The good news is that the the city appeared to be calming down on Thursday morning, and according to AP, hotel and restaurant employees and security guards have started cleaning up dozens of broken windows.