Charlotte: State of emergency declared after protester shot

Demonstrations against killing of two black men turn violent during second night of rioting in North Carolina

Police clash with protestors in Charlotte
Police clash with protestors in Charlotte
(Image credit: 2016 Getty Images)

A man is in a critical condition after being shot during a second night of rioting in Charlotte, North Carolina, when protests against the killing of two black men by police turned violent.

Four police officers were also hurt and the city has declared a state of emergency.

Police said last night's shooting was "civilian on civilian" and denied claims officers were involved.

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But Steve Knight, of the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice, told the Charlotte Observer: "I saw the man go down on the pavement. The victim was shot while he stood between two ministers and we believe he was shot by police."

The unrest follows a summer in which the killing of black men by police - and revenge shootings against officers - have deepened divisions in the US.

"This is an issue that seems to be an epidemic happening all around America. What are we as an American society going to do about it?" asked a lawyer for one of the victims' families.

The latest shootings

Last week, 40-year-old Terence Crutcher was shot dead by police officer Betty Shelby in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Footage shows officers approaching the unarmed man, who had his hands up, before Tazering and shooting him. One officer can be heard saying Crutcher looked "like a bad dude".

Writing in The Guardian, Michael W Twitty says Crutcher's only crime was being a black man in the US.

"Bad cops see large-bodied black men like me and they treat us like wild game. Was Crutcher just too big, too scary, too black to live?" he asks.

Days later, another black man was killed by police, this time in Charlotte, North Carolina. Keith Lamont Scott was shot by Brentley Vinson, who is also black.

The exact details surrounding the death remain unclear. His family say he was sitting in his car reading a book, but police say he was armed and a gun was recovered.

The public response

As the aftermath of the Charlotte killing was streamed live on Facebook, angry protesters descended on the scene and clashed with police. At least a dozen officers were injured.

"These frequent killings by police, with the vast majority of officers going unpunished, inspired the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement, which has staged protests throughout the country," says Salon.

What politicians say

The presidential candidates have given contrasting responses. Donald Trump suggested the officer who killed Crutcher may have been "scared" and called for an immediate end to the protests.

The Republican, "who has positioned himself as the law-and-order candidate, has been criticised in the past for what some see as opportunistic reactions to tragic events", says Politico.

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, addressed the race issue head-on, vowing to establish a new set of standards to prevent police shootings.

"We have got to tackle systemic racism," said the Democrat candidate. "This horrible shooting again. How many times do we have to see this in our country?"

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