Protests remained peaceful as the National Guard moved into Charlotte

Protests remained peaceful as the National Guard moved into Charlotte
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Protests remained peaceful Thursday evening in the third night of demonstrations against the killing of an African-American man by a police officer in north Charlotte.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department reported that two of its officers received medical attention after being sprayed by a “chemical agent.” And police in riot gear briefly clashed with a small number of protesters who refused to leave I-277 after blocking the interstate.

But the overall mood of the protest was lighter and police allowed demonstrators to stay on the streets into the wee hours of the morning despite Mayor Jennifer Roberts signing a midnight curfew.

It was welcome departure from the previous two nights of violent confrontations between protesters and police that left both police officers and protesters injured — including one protester who was shot and killed in the heart of Uptown.

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How we got here

Day 1: 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by a police officer near his home off of Old Concord Road. Police said he was holding a gun and posed a threat to officers. His family said the father of seven was simply reading a book and waiting to pick up his kids from the school bus. The shooter, identified by the police department as Officer Brentley Vinson, is also black.

Protests Tuesday night in north Charlotte injured 16 police officers.

[Agenda story: Here’s what we know about the police shooting that left a black man dead in north Charlotte]

Day 2: After Charlotte leaders spent the day urging the community to remain calm and wait for answers, hundreds of protesters flooded Uptown. Demonstrations began peacefully, but suddenly turned violent outside the EpiCentre. One protester was shot and gravely wounded. The city of Charlotte said the bullet came from a civilian, and not a police officer. Several other protesters were wounded, along with four officers. Windows were smashed and businesses looted. 44 people were arrested.

Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency.

[Agenda story: Protests turned chaotic and violent Uptown on Wednesday night]

What happened Thursday

In roughly chronological order.

Uptown cleaned up from Wednesday night

Workers quickly boarded up broken windows along Tryon Street and Trade Street. The EpiCentre and the Spectrum Center were particularly hard hit.

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Charlotte’s biggest companies stayed home. 

Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Duke Energy asked most of their Uptown workers to stay home, leaving the center city eerily quiet for most of the day.

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Scott’s family viewed the video of the shooting.

A statement from the family’s attorney said after viewing the video, they had “more questions than answers.” The statement says when Scott was shot, his hands were at his sides and he was walking backward.

Mayor Jennifer Roberts also viewed the video and told CNN it was “ambiguous.”

The protester who was shot Wednesday night died.

The man shot outside the Omni Hotel was in critical condition Wednesday night, but succumbed to his injuries Thursday. He was identified as 26-year-old Justin Carr. Charlotte police said they were opening a homicide investigation.

A small memorial was crafted on the spot where he was shot.

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Uptown and SouthPark buckled down. 

Most Uptown businesses closed early, and it was a ghost town by nightfall save for the several hundred protesters who had gathered to demonstrate.

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Several stores in SouthPark closed early too, as rumors flew that a protest would be organized in the south Charlotte neighborhood. The rumors were spurred by a video that circulated online where a man said protesters would move to wealthier areas of town, including SouthPark.

No protests occurred in SouthPark on Thursday.

The National Guard set up shop.

Gov. McCrory declined to say how many National Guard troops were deployed to Charlotte at Chief Kerr Putney’s request. But military vehicles were stationed throughout Uptown and soldiers in fatiques guarded just about every building with ground-floor windows. The presence was particularly heavy at the EpiCentre, Omni Hotel, the Spectrum Center and the Ritz Carlton.

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Protesters wound their way through Uptown. 

Both the National Guard and CMPD largely gave the protesters a wide berth as they worked their way from Romare Bearden Park, down Trade Street to the courthouse and then back to Bank of America Stadium.

The group made a stop at CMPD headquarters, demanding video of Scott’s shooting to be released to the public. City leaders have said that it won’t be made public.

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Protesters also stopped at the county jail, and encouraged each other to make enough noise so the inmates could hear them. It appeared to work. Lights flicked on and off in a number of the cells.

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The only true tense moment came when protesters moved from Bank of America stadium and took the on-ramp onto I-277. Traffic was briefly blocked while protesters demonstrated. Police soon asked them to move along, though not all complied. There were reports of tear gas being deployed to clear out the remaining protesters on the interstate.

Mayor Jennifer Roberts declared a midnight to 6 a.m. curfew.

The curfew will be in effect until the state of emergency is lifted. Police said they’d use it as a “tool” if things got out of hand. Bars and restaurants took it seriously, though, and began kicking people out at 11 p.m. Thursday.

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