Last week’s fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott unveiled the darker side of the charming southern town of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Several days of unrest exacerbated by the city’s lack of transparency in Scott’s shooting death brought forth emotional reactions during a Monday night city council meeting, according to Fox News.
Residents demanded the resignation of Mayor Jennifer Roberts and Police Chief Kerr Putney, who they say mishandled the public’s concerns in Scott’s shooting death investigation.
“It’s going to be rough in these streets until you give justice to our people,” said Rev. Milton Williams, who spoke during the three-hour meeting. “Our city’s in an uproar, and you did not respond.”
Zianna Oliphant, a young Charlotte girl, also spoke at the meeting and powerfully expressed anguish over racial inequality. With her braids pulled back and tears streaming down her face, she announced Monday, according to CBS News: “It’s a shame that our fathers and brothers are killed and we can’t see them anymore. It’s a shame that we have to go through that graveyard and bury him. We need our fathers and brothers to be by our side.”
Scott’s death is the second high-profile police-involved shooting centralized to the Charlotte community within the past three years. Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed Florida A&M football player, was fatally shot 10 times by Charlotte police in 2013.
Ferrell’s shooting, coupled with the recent deaths of young men and women at the hands of police in Oklahoma, Minnesota, Louisiana, and countless other states, reveals the stain of racism on the fabric of the nation.
Charlotte presents a dynamic of extreme wealth juxtaposed against extreme poverty, where residents feel ignored and displaced. The downtown area, a mix of high rise corporate buildings and affordable housing, highlights two separate experiences in the Queen City.
Jibril Hough, a local activist who organized peaceful protests after Ferrell’s shooting death, says it time to dispel the warm, welcoming aura Charlotte presents.
“When people come into town, they see nice, shiny buildings. But when it comes to working-class people, they don’t put pressure on these businesses to say what are you going to do for the working class,” Hough said.
Rev. William Barber, head of Charlotte’s NAACP chapter, told Fox News that Charlotte’s deficits weren’t created in a vacuum. Until community leaders resolve to work on the underlying issues, including racial inequality and economic freedom, these incidents will continue to happen.
“The type of riots we are seeing in Charlotte is a systemic response for people who are drowning in injustice,” he said.