Charlotte, North Carolina entered a fourth day of peaceful protests Friday night, sparking solidarity demonstrations in other parts of the country as people continue to express outrage over the killing of Keith Lamont Scott, a black man, who was shot dead by police earlier this week.
More than 100 demonstrators chanted and waved signs reading “Just Release the Tapes” as they marched through Charlotte’s business district, demanding that local police release videos of the shooting recorded on dashboard and body cameras. Police say Scott was shot because he was carrying a gun, but eyewitnesses insist the man was unarmed, and are demanding proof to back up officials’ claims.
“#it was a book,” read one of the protest banners, referring to accounts that Scott was holding a book, not a firearm, when he was felled by police.
The protests, which included a rally in front of Charlotte police headquarters, were tinged with emotional intensity after Reykia Scott, Keith Scott’s widow, released her own cellphone video of the shooting to the media earlier that day. Although the video did not clearly show the precise moment of the shooting, Scott does not appear to have a weapon near him in the immediate aftermath, a fact that contradicts a widely-distributed photo of the victim lying on the ground next to a gun after being shot.
Reykia can be heard pleading with police to spare Scott’s life in the video, saying, “Don’t shoot him. Don’t shoot him. He has no weapon.”
Most of the protestors dispersed early Friday evening roughly before 1:00am, complying with a midnight curfew invoked by Mayor Jennifer Roberts after one protestor was shot and killed during an altercation with police Wednesday night. Authorities say the death was caused by “civilian-on-civilian” violence, but eyewitnesses—including a pastor—dispute that claim, saying the fatal shot “came from the direction of the police.”
Roberts and other local authorities previously said they would not release tapes of the shooting, but changed course on Friday.
“I do believe the video should be released. The question is on timing,” Roberts said.
— Mark Boyle (@WCNCmboyle) September 24, 2016
The Charlotte protests were bolstered by a massive solidarity march in downtown Atlanta, Georgia on Friday evening. There, around 450 demonstrators rallied to condemn Scott’s death as well as the killing of Terence Crutcher, a black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who was gunned down by police earlier this week despite being visibly unarmed.
“Black people have witnessed people do violence to them and [the shooter] be protected by law enforcement,” Georgia NAACP President Francys Johnson said at a news conference before the protest.
Demonstrators in Atlanta said they have more protests planned for Saturday, and other cities could follow suit. Meanwhile, police report that 47 people have been arrested in Charlotte since demonstrations began on Tuesday, 37 of whom are from the city and 41 hailing from North Carolina.
As of September 22, at least 790 people have been killed by police in 2016—with people of color disproportionately represented. In 2015, police killed nearly 1,000 civilians, according to a Washington Post database.