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PHOTOS: Pain, Anger And Violence Fill Streets Of Charlotte, N.C.

Signs, rocks, tear gas, fireworks, broken glass, blood: The streets of Charlotte, N.C., have borne witness to days of unrest after a fatal police shooting on Tuesday.

Two nights of protests have included peaceful calls for unity as well as violence and destruction. On Wednesday night, a civilian was shot at a protest; he died on Thursday, police say.

The unrest began after a Charlotte police officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott, under disputed circumstances. Both Scott and the officer who shot him are black. Police say Scott was armed and refused to drop his gun; his family and neighbors say he was holding a book.

Police and protesters give different accounts of what happened before Scott was killed. Police say he was brandishing a gun; protesters say he was unarmed. Demonstrators have called for video footage of the incident to be made public. "Release the tapes," these protesters in Charlotte urged Wednesday.
/ Courtesy of Zach NeSmith
Police and protesters give different accounts of what happened before Scott was killed. Police say he was brandishing a gun; protesters say he was unarmed. Demonstrators have called for video footage of the incident to be made public. "Release the tapes," these protesters in Charlotte urged Wednesday.

Demonstrations began on Tuesday near the site of the shooting, close to the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, in the northeast section of the city. Protests started peacefully before turning into a confrontation between protesters and officers that left 16 officers injured.

On Wednesday afternoon, there were peaceful protests in uptown Charlotte (the city's central district). The area is home to high-rise offices, luxury hotels and entertainment venues. Demonstrators gathered in front of Bank of America's headquarters, marched to police headquarters and then gathered in an urban park, David Boraks of member station WFAE reports.

Many of the protests on Wednesday, like the demonstration attended by this little girl, were peaceful. Charlotte has a reputation as a tolerant, diverse and progressive city, but a police killing last year had shaken that perception even before the events of Tuesday and Wednesday.
Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images
Many of the protests on Wednesday, like the demonstration attended by this little girl, were peaceful. Charlotte has a reputation as a tolerant, diverse and progressive city, but a police killing last year had shaken that perception even before the events of Tuesday and Wednesday.

But then, he says, the protest split: "One group marched to Little Rock AME Zion Church. There, people like Mario Black called for unity after Tuesday night's violent protests. ... He urged people to channel negative energy into something for good."

A second group gathered on the streets a few blocks away. That's where a protester was shot. City officials initially said he was shot by another civilian, but the police chief said later on Thursday that police are investigating allegations that he was shot by a police officer. The man, 26-year-old Justin Carr, died Thursday, police say.

Police and protesters carry a seriously wounded protester into the parking area of the the Omni Hotel during a march on Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C. The shooting victim died Thursday. Police say the protester was shot by another civilian, while many protesters blamed police for the shooting. After the shooting, the uptown protest turned into hours of violence and destruction.
Brian Blanco / Getty Images
Police and protesters carry a seriously wounded protester into the parking area of the the Omni Hotel during a march on Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C. The shooting victim died Thursday. Police say the protester was shot by another civilian, while many protesters blamed police for the shooting. After the shooting, the uptown protest turned into hours of violence and destruction.

Word of the shooting quickly spread through the crowd, Boraks reports: "A few people started throwing metal and hotel flower pots at a police car, as it turned around to leave.

"Police began firing tear gas to move the crowd back from the hotel entrance," he reports. "And protesters tossed fireworks back."

The protest lasted for hours, with buildings damaged and streets shut down. By Thursday morning, employees of local businesses were cleaning up the broken glass that was left behind.

Charlotte, a major banking center and a rapidly growing city, has a population of more than 800,000 people — approximately 45 percent white, 35 percent black and 13 percent Hispanic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

On Wednesday night, some groups of protesters called for unity in peaceful demonstrations; others threw fireworks, plants and other items at police officers, and received tear gas in return. This man reacted as the night's violence unfolded.
Brian Blanco / Getty Images
On Wednesday night, some groups of protesters called for unity in peaceful demonstrations; others threw fireworks, plants and other items at police officers, and received tear gas in return. This man reacted as the night's violence unfolded.

As WFAE's Gwendolyn Glenn explained, there was tension in the city last year over a 2013 police shooting of a black man.

Jonathan Ferrell was unarmed and was looking for help after a car crash when a stranger called 911 to report that he was at her door. An officer went to the scene and ultimately shot and killed Ferrell. The trial concluded in 2015.

"That trial ended in a hung jury and when that verdict came down there were protests in the streets immediately," Glenn says. "Police and the protesters did not clash at that time, but the city was greatly divided."

Last year, Mary C. Curtis wrote for NPR's Code Switch about Ferrell's death and how it shook Charlotte's reputation as a progressive, diverse city whose residents tended to get along.

"In conversations — both informal and organized by the city's institutions and places of worship — there are questions, tensions and a realization that Charlotte isn't the place many thought it was," Curtis wrote. "In reality, it's an integrated city where it's very easy to live a segregated life."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

A police officer in riot gear stands near a damaged storefront in uptown Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday. The city's population of more than 800,000 people is about 45 percent white, 35 percent black and 13 percent Hispanic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Sean Rayford / Getty Images
A police officer in riot gear stands near a damaged storefront in uptown Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday. The city's population of more than 800,000 people is about 45 percent white, 35 percent black and 13 percent Hispanic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.