Largely peaceful protests dwindled early on Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina, as police chose not to enforce a curfew prompted by two nights of riots that engulfed the city after a black man was shot to death by a police officer.
A crowd of hundreds gathered, chanted and marched for a third successive night in the state’s largest city, demanding justice for Keith Scott, 43, who was shot dead by a black police officer in the parking lot of an apartment complex on Tuesday afternoon.
Police fired tear gas and non-lethal projectiles to break up crowds blocking traffic on a highway. National Guard troops backed up a robust police presence in the town center, helping to restrain protesters chanting “Whose streets? Our streets,” as helicopters circled overhead.
The Charlotte Police Department said on Twitter that two officers were treated after they were sprayed with a chemical agent by demonstrators and that no civilians were injured on Thursday.
Despite the brief outbursts, the demonstrations were calmer than those on the previous two nights. Rioters had smashed storefront windows, looted businesses and thrown objects at police, prompting officials to declare a state of emergency and the city’s mayor to enact a curfew.
A protester shot on Wednesday died on Thursday, nine people were injured, and 44 were arrested in riots on Wednesday and Thursday morning.
Protesters and police in Charlotte confronted each other for a third evening, on Thursday night, in a roaming demonstration as the family of police shooting victim Keith Scott said it still had “more questions than answers” after privately viewing footage of his killing.
Police used tear gas to disperse a crowd of hundreds on the John Belk freeway, where they had blocked traffic. The clash led the mayor, Jennifer Roberts, to declare a midnight curfew – a step she had declined to take earlier in the day.
As the evening began, a small crowd of people – nothing like the crowds of Wednesday night – gathered in Charlotte’s Uptown neighborhood. Their main rallying cry was “release the tapes,” a reference to police video of Scott’s death on Tuesday, shot by officers in the parking lot of the apartment complex where he lived on the east side of town.
Meanwhile, Scott’s family was shown in private two police body camera videos of the officer shooting him dead.
Justin Bamberg, an attorney for the family, said in the statement: “While police did give him several commands, he did not aggressively approach them or raise his hands at members of law enforcement at any time.
“It is impossible to discern from the videos what, if anything, Mr Scott is holding in his hands,” the statement said, adding that Scott’s hands were by his sides and he was slowly walking backward.
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