Protesters have maintained a vocal and visible presence in Charlotte since the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer Brentley Vinson on Tuesday, September 20.
[For additional information on the events last week, see our coverage here, here and here.]
Last Friday, a centralized collective of protesters known as Charlotte Uprising released a list of demands. Since then, CMPD has released footage of the shooting, Mayor Jennifer Roberts has lifted the midnight curfew and the state of emergency has been terminated. Still, protests continue. A closer look at protesters’ demands helps clarify why they march on.
These are the demands from Charlotte Uprising. Note that a Charlotte Uprising demand and a subsequent city or state action is not necessarily a cause and effect relationship.
The following is to give context, clarify the protesters’ platform and highlight developments that have taken place since Keith Scott’s shooting on September 20.
“The immediate end to the state of emergency, curfew & the removal of the National Guard”
Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency in Charlotte shortly after 11 p.m. on Wednesday, September 21 at the request of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Chief Kerr Putney. The declaration followed a night of mounting tension between protesters and riot police in Uptown resulting in property damage, looting and the shooting death of 26-year-old Justin Carr, a civilian protester.
Rayquan Borum, another civilian, was arrested Friday, September 23 and charged with first degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon. Borum has confessed to shooting Carr, according to prosecutors.
The subsequent state of emergency declaration involved the deployment of additional resources into the city of Charlotte, including state troopers and National Guard.
Around 9 p.m. on Thursday, September 22, Mayor Jennifer Roberts issued a mandatory citywide midnight curfew. The curfew was lifted on Sunday, September 25. The state of emergency was just terminated Wednesday night.
ALERT: @CLTMayor and @CMPD have enacted a citywide curfew beginning Sept. 23 imposed at midnight until 6 a.m.
— City of Charlotte (@CLTgov) September 23, 2016
“The immediate demilitarization of the police department and the immediate return of all military equipment”
In the presence of riot police and National Guard humvees, protesters can often be heard chanting, “I don’t see no riot here. Why are they in riot gear?”
In a statement posted to the Charlotte Uprising site on Friday, September 23, organizers said, “Protesters are criminalized as violent agitators, yet police show up in our communities armed and militarized, under the guise of being peacekeepers.”
Under the state of emergency, the National Guard, military police vehicles and riot police maintained a presence on the streets of Charlotte. The state of emergency was terminated last night.
The need for backup was prompted by violent unrest on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. CMPD reports that 16 officers were injured in Tuesday night’s protest in University City, four more were injured Wednesday night in Uptown and two were injured Thursday night in Uptown.
Many people in Charlotte, including some protesters, are praising police officers and the National Guard for their service. Images of people shaking hands with and hugging officers were widely circulated throughout the week.
On Saturday, Mayor Roberts tweeted a photo of families posing for photos with the National Guard, adding, “Thank you for serving our city!”
Kids & families taking pictures with the National Guard. Thank you for serving our city! @NationalGuard @CLTgov pic.twitter.com/G0RFg1Cjx9
— Jennifer Roberts (@JenRobertsNC) September 25, 2016
“The defunding of the police department (2017 budget: $246,644,617) and the redirection of those resources to the needs of our communities (including resources for jobs programs, affordable quality housing, transportation, holistic health and quality schools)”
In June of this year, Charlotte City Council approved a $2.45 billion citywide budget for fiscal year 2017 that includes the addition of 88 positions to CMPD (63 sworn, 25 civilian). The Council cites public safety as its highest priority.
“An independent investigation into the killing of Keith L. Scott and an investigation into the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department by the Department of Justice and a freeze on the nearly 1.5 million dollars awarded in federal grants annually to the department”
The officer-involved shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott was turned over to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation on Thursday, September 22.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP have also called for a DOJ probe into the state’s investigation.
Mayor Roberts said in a city council meeting on Tuesday, September 27 that she has asked the Department of Justice to monitor SBI’s investigation but the DOJ is not actively involved.
Chief Putney tells @CNN the SBI is taking over the investigation.
— CMPD News (@CMPD) September 22, 2016
“A release of the police report and body camera footage connected with the killing of Keith L. Scott & all other killings to the public and immediately repeal of HB 972, which restricts the ability of the public to access police body camera footage”
The police report and portions of body camera and dash-cam footage were released by CMPD on Saturday, September 24.
Charlotte protesters along with the ACLU and NAACP have called for the release of any remaining footage that has not been made available to the public. According to The Charlotte Observer, a spokesman for CMPD said all available footage of the shooting has already been released but that some footage captured afterwards as other officers arrived may be available.
Yesterday, the Observer confirmed that CMPD is withholding more than two hours of additional footage. On Monday the Observer’s lawyer John Buchan requested all remaining footage.
House Bill 972, signed by Governor McCrory in July of this year, would limit public access to police video footage effective October 1, 2016.
“The immediate and unconditional release of all those arrested in connection with the uprising resulting from the killing of Keith L. Scott & the dropping of all charges”
As of Friday, September 23, 47 protest-related arrests had been made since Tuesday, September 20. Of those arrested, 41 are from the state of North Carolina and six are from out of state. Charlotte residents accounted for 37 of the 41 in-state arrests.
Since then, four were arrested at demonstrations on Saturday 9/24, 11 were arrested at demonstrations on Sunday 9/25 and nine were arrested at demonstrations on Monday 9/26.
Ongoing arrests are being made for people involved in Wednesday night’s looting and rioting.
Detectives are working diligently to identify looting suspects, sign warrants and make arrests.This is their board of open cases. pic.twitter.com/aTa4NjbBEw
— CMPD News (@CMPD) September 25, 2016
“The release of all the names of the officers involved in the killing of Keith L. Scott to the public followed by their firing, arrest and prosecution”
Officer Brentley Vinson, who fired the shots that killed Keith Scott, was immediately placed on administrative leave following the shooting. No other names of officers have been released.
Channel 9 confirms this is the photo of CMPD officer Brentley Vinson who shot and killed Keith Scott https://t.co/RubNaOmGHy pic.twitter.com/HpGhSYRYlr
— WSOCTV (@wsoctv) September 21, 2016
“Reparations for the family of Keith L. Scott and all victims of police violence as well as the families of those who have been killed”
The SBI investigation that will determine if the shooting of Keith Scott by police was justified is still underway. If reparations are eventually to be made, that settlement could take years.
In May of last year, the city of Charlotte made a $2.25 million settlement with the family of Jonathan Ferrell who was shot and killed by CMPD officer Randall “Wes” Kerrick on September 14, 2013. A manslaughter charge against Kerrick was dismissed after an 8-4 hung jury vote for acquittal. The judge declared a mistrial.
“Community control of the police, starting with the creation of a civilian oversight board that has the power to hire and fire officers, determine disciplinary actions as well as dictate police policies, priorities, and budgets. The board shall not include police representation and will be controlled by communities most impacted by policing and incarceration in Charlotte.”
Charlotte Uprising isn’t alone in its demand for a stronger civilian review board. The NAACP has called for the creation of a civilian oversight board with the power to conduct independent investigations and discipline CMPD officers. And, according to the Observer, SAFE Coalition NC is also calling for an elected civilian review board with “subpoena power and the authority to discipline officers.”
Charlotte’s existing Citizens Review Board, established in 1997, came under fire in 2013 when an Observer investigation revealed that the board sided with police in all 78 cases reviewed over 15 years.
“An end to the repression & targeting of protesters and all those engaged in the Charlotte Uprising”
A Charlotte Uprising representative was not immediately available yesterday to comment on the group’s demands.
No one voice speaks for all protesters in Charlotte but Charlotte Uprising represents a large and centralized contingent.