Charlotte Protests

On Sept. 20, the police killing of 43-year-old black man Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, would ignite a series of protests throughout the state, from the streets of Charlotte to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro.

There are conflicting reports about what happened the day a police officer killed Scott. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department says he was holding a gun. His family says he was holding a book. Some articles talk about Scott’s past felony convictions. Some refer to him as a family man.

Regardless, no one deserves to die at the hands of the police.

Several sources claim that were Scott obeying the law by not carrying a gun as a felon in the state of North Carolina, he would still be alive. The fact of the matter is, even if Scott were carrying a gun, police would not have known who Scott was and, therefore, could not have known he was a felon.

“Most cops have been in situations where they lawfully could have shot somebody and didn’t,” said former police officer and president of Polis Solutions Jonathan M. Wender according to The New York Times.

This kind of rhetoric has occurred for years. On July 17, 2014, a police officer killed 24-year-old Eric Garner by choking him to death in Staten Island, New York. Because he was selling untaxed cigarettes, many claimed Garner’s death was justified. There was no indictment.

On Aug. 9, 2014, a police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. He had reportedly just committed a robbery at the time, so many came to the officer’s defense, claiming he had no choice. Brown was unarmed. No charges were filed.

I could go on, since there were at least 193 black people killed by police this year before Scott, according to the Huffington Post, but my point is that none of them deserved to die for being black.

White people have committed crimes including everything from selling illegal drugs to speeding, but black people were somehow 2.7 times as likely to be shot and killed by police in 2015 according to the Fatal Encounters database. At the time, black people were only 14 percent of the United States population.

This is why it is necessary to protest in Charlotte. Though it is important to mourn Scott’s passing as one person, it is also important to acknowledge the larger systemic issues: Scott, along with 193 others before him this year, died because of their race.

Several sources are criminalizing the protests the way Scott has been criminalized, calling them violent riots and unnecessary. However, having been to a protest in Charlotte, my experience was that protesters were not violent, and the protests were certainly necessary.

Part of this prejudice comes from how many people feel about Black Lives Matter. There were many calling for Black Lives Matter to be considered a hate group, and those same people formed All Lives Matter as a response.

However, there are also those who are referring to Black Lives Matter as “the next civil rights movement,” according to Dissent Magazine, but focusing on humanizing black lives instead of gaining equal rights.

“One of the negligent areas of the civil rights movement is that we did not move the moral compass of racism to the right direction,” said HandsUp United organizer Kareem Jackson, according to Dissent.

The protests in Charlotte and all over the state indicate that people do support change and that they can envision a future where people like Scott don’t have to die for the crime of being black.