My first-person account of the first two nights of protests following Keith Lamont Scott killing

The recorder on my table made a hissing sound as I made DIY cassettes of my original music. I read a news report that a black man had been shot by police in Charlotte. This was only a day after the video of the death of Terence Crutcher at the hands of a Tulsa police officer was released. The graphic video of Crutcher bleeding on the ground was still in my mind.

Now police had shot another black man; this time in my hometown.

The man’s name was Keith Lamont Scott, and his family members and eyewitnesses on the scene were saying all he had in his hand was a book. My mind went blank and my emotions shut down while feelings of helplessness overwhelmed me. I decided I needed to try to get on with the day. Life had to go on even as an uneasy feeling refused to leave me.

Word spread that people were showing up at The Village at College Downs, the apartment complex where Keith Scott lived and died. The rumors were of helicopters, police in riot gear, civil unrest. It was clear the neighborhood needed as much support as they could get.

The closer I got to the apartment complex, the more I realized this was not an ordinary protest. Police had blocked parts of Old Concord Road and people were walking from miles away. I parked my car in a dimly lit neighborhood and approached the site of the shooting.

The sun was setting and a dusty fog made for an ominous backdrop. Police were putting on riot gear and arming themselves with wooden batons. A helicopter flew overhead, placing its spotlight on hundreds of protesters. My stomach dropped. Text messages from my partner Joanne poured in, asking me to come home.

A car parked in the center of the crowd of blasted anti-police songs while a man stood atop and rapped along. The bass from his trunk shook the ground. The police had their own vehicle: a CATS bus filled with more police, riot gear and other equipment.

The tension increased as protesters confronted CMPD officers. They lined up in formation, face to face with the officers glaring through helmets. Some were baiting the officers saying, “Pull the trigger now, we’re right here!” or “You’re scared, you don’t want to be here!” Others were lecturing officers, telling them how they are hurting the community with their actions.

One man, in a confrontation with a row of officers caught on video that soon became viral, said, “I love my fucking country, I’ve got brothers who died for this shit man.” He raised his arm to show a veteran’s bracelet. “You’ve seen this band, you know what it is. I don’t hate you, I don’t hate none of you. But why, man?”

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