Police & protesters clash after fatal officer involved shootingBy Yasmine Regester / September 23, 2016
Protestors took to the streets on Tuesday night in Charlotte, N.C. in response to another fatal officer involved shooting.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, September 20, Officer Brently Vinson, a Black man, shot 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, also a Black man, while Scott sat in his car at the intersection of an apartment complex near The University of North Carolina Charlotte.
Reports say that the officers were there to serve a warrant for a different man when they saw Scott in the car. Authorities allege a gun was spotted, and that officers gave multiple warnings for Scott to drop his weapon before they fired upon him first.
The victim’s family gives a different account saying that Scott was disabled, did not have a weapon on him and he was simply reading a book while waiting to pick his son up from school. Authorities say that a gun was recovered from the crime scene.
A member of the police department for two years, Vinson has been placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is under investigation.
Witnesses say Tuesday night’s protests started peacefully, but got more aggressive as the night went on. The police fired tear gas into the crowd as protestors retaliated and shut down Old Concord Road, W.T. Harris Blvd., and part of I-85. About 16 police officers were injured during the incident, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney.
Tuesday night’s protest in Charlotte came just a day after a police officer shot and killed an unarmed Black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Released video footage shows Terence Crutcher walking to his car with his hands over his head before Officer Betty Shelby, a White female, shot him in the chest.
Shelby later claimed she believed Crutcher was reaching for something inside his car, although no gun was recovered from the car or the victim. Crutcher’s family say that he was leaving Tulsa Community College when he began having car trouble, and was then confronted by police.
Just hours before the news of Crutcher’s death came, Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, Geneva Reed-Veal, mother of Sandra Bland, and Maria Hamilton, mother of Dontre Hamilton made a visit to Greensboro to speak in support of Clinton’s criminal justice reform plan at N.C. A&T State University on Monday, September 19.
As part of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign, The Mothers of the Movement, women whose children have been killed as a result of altercations with law enforcement officers, are traveling the country speaking about the need for officer training and implementation of laws that hold law enforcement accountable.
“These police officers that are killing our children, cannot be retrained. We need to put people in positions who want to serve and protect all people,” said Hamilton.
Clinton’s criminal justice reform plan calls for the end of the era of mass incarceration, addresses the school-to-prison pipeline, and invests in programs that ensure a safe transition for individuals from prison to home.
The three women urged that everyone take advantage of early voting on October 20. They said there is no excuse not to vote.
“When you don’t vote, your vote still counts for the other folks, so make it count for your people and your community,” said Reed-Veal.
Back on the campaign trail after a battle with pneumonia, Clinton made one of her first stops a trip to Greensboro on September 15.
The rally drew about 1,500 people to the old recreation center on the campus of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Clinton hit the stage to James Brown’s 1965 song, “I Got You (I Feel Good) blaring through the speakers before going right into discussing her recent illness and how lucky she was to be able to afford to take a few days off to rest. She also explained that she was fortunate to have health insurance, which many Americans in this country do not have.
“Lots of Americans still don’t even have insurance, or they do but it’s too expensive for them to actually use…Lots of working parents can’t afford childcare, which in many states costs as much as college tuition,” said Clinton.
While Clinton used most of her speech to address things like healthcare and her legacy of fighting for children, she also addressed North Carolina’s HB2, the law that requires transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate. It also prohibits municipalities from raising minimum wage; and fails to protect the LGBTQ community from discrimination in employment and housing.
She noted the impact that it has had on not just the LGBTQ community, but also the whole state with the loss of annual sporting events, business expansions and concerts.
“If anyone wonders what the costs of discrimination are, just ask the people and businesses of North Carolina. Look at what’s happening with the NCAA and the ACC. This is where bigotry leads, and we can’t afford it — not here, not anywhere else in America,” said Clinton.
In opposition to the law, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) canceled seven championship events, including basketball tournament games from three N.C. cities including Greensboro. On Wednesday, September 14, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) followed the NCAA’s lead by pulling December’s football championship from Charlotte.
Less than 50 days out from the election, Clinton encouraged attendees to early vote, and referenced North Carolina’s restrictive Voter ID law, which was recently struck down by a federal court as being discriminatory against African Americans.
“Let’s make these days count, particularly here, because you know what your governor and legislature tried to do,” she said, “There can’t be any more motivation than that to make sure every young person, every person of color, every person with a disability, every older person turns out and votes,” said Clinton.
Clinton acknowledged her opponent, Republican nominee Donald Trump, saying that he has no real policy plan and has criticized the American people throughout his campaign. She used this time to refer people to her Web site to review her 38 point policy plan.
“We don’t need someone who rushes out a half-baked plan just weeks before an election after decades of ignoring or putting down working moms. We need a president who has spent years fighting for these issues, who has a plan to support all families in all their various shapes,” she said.
“See, my opponent has America all wrong. There’s nothing we can’t do when we come together as one nation, set big goals and pursue them. The American dream is big enough for everyone to share in its promise,” said Clinton.
Clinton’s campaign rally received support from Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan and District 28 State Sen. Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford), who each made opening remarks.
“We need to let people know she is the most qualified candidate. We want people to vote for her because of what she brings to the table,” said Mayor Vaughan, who added that North Carolina stands to lose 100,000 jobs under Trump and his economic plan.
“Hillary Clinton’s plan is the right plan to take us into the future. We are stronger together. We will vote. We won’t let anybody turn us around,” said Robinson.
Not to be outdone, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made a campaign stop at High Point University on Tuesday, September 20, where he focused his speech on improving national security through tougher immigration policies.
“We have seen how failure to screen all people coming into the United States puts all of our citizens in great danger,” said Trump. “Immigration security is national security.”
It was his third appearance in the Triad since June, with previous appearances taking place in Greensboro and Winston-Salem.
Early voting begins on October 20. Election Day is November 8.