Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by police yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina. Police say that Scott was armed. Witnesses say he was not. If that doesn't sound familiar by now, you haven't been paying attention.
The shooting ― the sixth Charlotte-Mecklenburg police killing of a civilian in the past year ― happened just before 4 p.m. at an apartment complex roughly a mile from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers were searching at the complex for someone else who was wanted on an outstanding warrant, police said in a statement.In one account I read, which I cannot confirm, Scott was holding a book that he'd been reading while sitting in his car waiting to pick up his son from school.
During the search, officers said they saw a man exit a vehicle with a firearm, then get back inside. When police approached, the man got out of the vehicle again and "posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers who subsequently fired their weapon striking the subject," according to the police statement.
...A woman who identified herself as Scott's daughter captured the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live. She and other witnesses said Scott had a disability and did not have a gun.
What I do know is that North Carolina is an open-carry state. So even if Scott had been carrying a gun, it's unclear how that would constitute "an imminent deadly threat to officers," especially once he was back in his car.
The officer who shot and killed Scott is himself Black. I have already seen people making the mendacious argument that "proves" this isn't about racism. But that argument elides the fact that the police, as an institution, have long been informed—and often explicitly governed—by white supremacy.
There were protests in Charlotte last night. Some damage was apparently done to property, and police fired tear gas to break up the protest. Meanwhile, the police chief is citing a law allowing police to withhold video, except that law doesn't take effect until next month.
I was speaking to a friend this morning, who's a Black woman and a mother of Black children, and I told her I don't even know what to say anymore, or what to do. She said she didn't, either. The problem is that a meaningful and immediate solution to this problem is so radical that the powers that be haven't even begun to seriously contemplate it. Reforms such as implicit bias training and reimagined community policing and body cameras and so forth take time. We don't have that kind of time. We need radical action now.
My condolences to Scott's family, friends, and community.