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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10 Photos That Show Trans And Queer People At Work

Being a transgender woman in America is hard. But being a transgender woman in Charlotte, North Carolina, the same state that passed House Bill 2, is even harder. The possibility of hearing a slur as or experiencing the threat of violence is the tape playing in my mind as I navigate an empty parking garage alone, keys in hand.

Looking and securing employment can be just as difficult. You experience that pit-in-the-stomach anxiety anxiety when you walk into an interviewer’s office knowing you have to explain your gender transition. Perfect makeup or a good suit is no guarantee that you will be treated equally. Someone asking about your gender transition is none of their business.

With these challenges in mind, I was inspired by the #TransAtWork campaign that was started by the Trans Employment Program at the Center. The Program, in its 10th year, is the first one in the nation. While this campaign is not officially associated with the center, it falls within the same context. Transgender people are talented and hardworking people and deserve to be compensated no matter what city they live in.

Shannon Harlow


Trader Joe’s Crew Member

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

“Trader Joe’s is very open to diverse people. I have kids who ask their parents “is that a girl or a boy” out loud. Kids will be kids but it tells me that parents do not open their children’s eyes to diversity. We are who we are as humans and individuals and those that have to hide it — well that is sad for them. I am not going to hide who I am.”

Dr. Laura Levin



Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

“We need transgender people in every industry so people can see that we are able to do the jobs that are given to us. It’s also important that kids have positive role model.”

Ashley Williams


Community Organizer

Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

“This work is important because black and trans liberation depends on it. I don’t think of the work I do as representative of people. I hope that the work is representative of histories and traditions of black queer resistance. Learn from others. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

Lara Americo



Pronouns: She/They

“I imagine a day where the word transgender isn’t met with so much afterthought. We are not sex objects or science experiments. We are people just like anyone else.”

Tamika Blue


Project Coordinator for Blueprint NC

Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

“My work is very important to the queer and trans community. I work everyday to make sure we have the ability to be heard, to amplify our voices, to build our community, and to advocate for the changes we need to make our lives safer.”

Charlie Comero


Operations Manager – Home Collection

Pronouns: He/Him/His

“I feel like they’re should be more companies looking for transgender employees. Transgender unemployment rate is double that of the general population: 14%. Almost half of the transgender population are underemployed. Furthermore, a lot transgender people are forced to come out at the very early stages of job applications given the current (binaric) hiring system we have. For example, having to answer the question – ‘previous legal name(s)’.”

Liam Johns



Pronouns: He/Him/His

“Charlotte, NC is my home and my family is here. I’m proud to be a part of such a strong community. When our communities lives are under attack, we stand up and fight back. Being a paramedic means protecting the lives of my community. “

Dr. Andrea Pitts


Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

“When I was younger, I studied jazz music pretty seriously. I loved how musicians would riff on the past to create something new, and locate themselves in relation to prior traditions by complicating, dismantling, and reconstructing those traditions. In graduate school, Latina feminist theory and philosophy of race allowed me to locate myself within a complicated history of ideas and develop a creative relationship to the past. Now, as an educator, I seek to encourage students to similarly riff on previous interpretations of the world and find new ways to challenge the normative structures in which we live.”

Sam Poler


Field Organizer

Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

“We live in a society that doesn’t value trans and queer lives, especially when those folks are brown and black.  That’s not stopping all of the amazing queer POC leaders in Charlotte that are working to dismantle this system that oppresses all of us.  I am not a leader in this movement, I’m a white accomplice organizer.  My organizing focus is to bring more white, trans, bisexual ashkenazi jews into the movement for black lives. Together we will destroy white supremacy and this capitalist society.”

Jamie Marsicano


Server – Tupelo Honey Café

Pronouns: She/They

“I feel like if we can’t express ourselves freely then we can’t bring our full selves to the work. I’ve worked in spaces where I have to tone down my gender expression and I found myself more distracted and less open.  Today was the first day I wore a dress to this job and it’s opened up a whole new world. I feel like now people actually know who it is that they’re working with. “

To learn more about the Trans at Work Campaign by the San Francisco LGBT Center visit this address: