(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — Peaceful protesters crowded Charlotte, North Carolina’s first city council meeting since the cop shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, with over 50 people speaking out against police violence.
But none of them stood out Monday quite as much as a young girl.
Zianna Oliphant, her hair done up in braids and tears streaking her face, brought into focus the stress police shootings place on children, as well as the pain the black community of Charlotte has suffered in the wake of Scott’s death last week.
“I’ve been born and raised in Charlotte. And I never felt this way until now and I can’t stand how we’re treated,” the grade-school girl said, wiping away tears.
She expressed the hardship that children face when a parent dies. Scott himself, who was African-American, had seven children.
“It’s a shame that we have to go to their graveyard and bury them. And we have tears. We shouldn’t have tears. We need our fathers and mothers to be by our side,” she said.
Zianna, as well as the protesters in the room who chanted “no justice, no peace” after she spoke, helped to underscore the degree to which communal wounds have been slow to heal in North Carolina’s most populous city since the shooting.
Protests started on the streets of Charlotte after news of Scott’s shooting broke last Tuesday and, occasionally, became violent as they continued deeper into the week.
The scene grew especially tense Wednesday night when police clad in riot gear fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators. Some people in the crowds threw bottles and rocks at officers and passing cars, blocked an interstate highway, surrounded and jumped on vehicles, looted businesses and stormed the entrance of a Hyatt hotel, injuring two of its employees.
At the city council meeting, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts called for decorum at several points during public remarks. At several points, protesters yelled criticism of her and Police Chief Kerr Putney.
After the meeting wrapped up, The Charlotte Observer reported, more than 20 protesters moved to the lobby of the Government Center.
“Release. Release. The whole damn tape,” the protesters chanted, according to the newspaper.
Ray Dotch, Scott’s brother-in-law, on Monday called for the release of the entire video of his shooting in an interview with ABC News.
Chief Putney has released body and dashboard camera videos of the fatal police shooting of Scott, answering to demands made by community leaders, protesters and politicians. But it is not entirely clear from those videos or from the one taken by Scott’s wife, Rakeiya Scott, that the victim had a gun on his person, as the police allege. It is also not entirely clear that he brandished it in such a way that would have posed a threat to the officers who approached him.
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