Protesters in Charlotte, North Carolina have engaged in violence on a large scale following the lethal shooting by police of an African-American. According to the Charlotte Observer, 16 police officers were injured last night in a series of clashes. In addition, there are reports of motorists on Interstate 85 being hurt and their vehicles damaged by rocks, bottles, and traffic cones hurled by protesters off interstate overpasses.
Even if the police shooting were unjustified, such violence should be condemned and vigorously suppressed. In this case, though, the protesters have no idea whether the shooting was unjustified. In the spirit of the times, they have seized upon the shooting as an excuse to attack not just the police, but citizens whose only offenses are (1) driving on the interstate and (2) more likely than not being white.
What are the key facts of the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott? We don’t know.
We do know the account of the police. They say that the officer who shot Scott is African-American. They also say that officers had been searching for someone who had an outstanding warrant when they saw Scott leave his car holding a gun.
According to the police, officers approached Scott after he got back into the car. He emerged from the car again armed with a firearm “and posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers, who subsequently fired their weapon striking the subject.” Scott was not the person subject to the outstanding warrant.
If the police version is accurate, there should have been a gun at the scene of the shooting. They police say they found one. They also say that Scott was ordered to drop the gun but did not comply.
Those alleging wrongdoing by the police say that Scott was holding a book when he was shot. The police say they found no book, only the gun.
It’s too early to embrace the police account. Conceivably, a black police officer gunned down a black man for no reason. More plausibly, he may have overreacted to the situation or perceived it incorrectly. Maybe the police is covering up wrongdoing.
It’s also too early for anyone to be peacefully protesting the shooting. A shooting on the facts stated by the police would not justify any protest, and those facts appear not yet to be contradicted by evidence.
But not only are residents protesting, they are injuring police officers and motorists.
Such is life in the Age of Obama.