Keith Lamont Scott, the man shot dead by police in North Carolina, was my neighbor
Now the city is raging
Charlotte, the largest city in my home state of North Carolina, is currently in a state of emergency.
Last night protests continued to rage after the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in the Village of College Downs neighborhood.
Keith was an African American who was gunned down by officers for apparently refusing to obey their commands. His family say he was reading a book at the time.
Police claimed he was carrying a firearm and posed “an imminent deadly threat to officers,” and so they shot him dead. Now a wife is missing a husband, and seven children are missing a father – and Charlotte is furious.
“I don’t think he was dangerous or a threat to anybody, most people around here knew him,” said Lanne Stanley, a resident of Keith’s neighborhood. She told The Tab in an exclusive interview how she would pass him daily as he waited at the bus stop to pick up his kids.
“He had just been in a motorcycle accident and he had PTSD from it,” she added. “That’s a possible reason he didn’t react to the cops like they thought and they really don’t want that out in the media, I think.”
Last night North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard to assist with the ensuing protests that swept Charlotte in the shooting’s aftermath.
Just four days earlier in Tulsa, Oklahoma another unarmed Black man named Terence Crutcher was killed by police. He was shocked with a stun gun, and then shot dead.
Keith is the 173rd Black man to be killed by police this year, according to the Washington Post’s count.
“I do fear for the safety of my family members and friends, I do not feel as if they are safe or secure,” said Charlotte resident Peyton Brown. “My parents work downtown and have meetings in the area. After the destruction last night, I’m afraid someone would be bold enough to act irrationally in broad daylight and potentially hurt someone else because of high tensions.”
With the recent attacks in New York City and New Jersey, it appears the threat of such meaningless and senseless violence is much more prominent than it has ever been.
Many in Charlotte are less than thrilled about the way the city is being shown in the media – pictures and descriptions on social media bring into mind the past scenes in Ferguson and Baltimore.
Lanne told me she feels coverage of the rioting and looting is taking attention away from the real problem: police brutality.
“You’re portraying the city in a certain way without really digging into the reason why this is happening in the first place!” she explained.
“Before this father of seven was shot in his own neighborhood, were there protests? Were there riots and looting in the streets? No it wasn’t. This is clearly a call for help!”
There’s no quick fix on how to handle the inequalities and tension that have persisted so long in America.
Now Lanne is worried for Keith’s children – and her own.
“When I try to explain to my kids that the police only shoot bad people, how do I tell them that they shot their neighbor or their friend’s dad for no reason?
“Then they think all police are bad, and the cycle starts over.”
Pictures from Jonathan Brashear.