Local

Shooting and Protests Disrupt Charlotte

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For nearly two weeks now, Charlotte has been engulfed in protests and violence, led by members of the Black Lives Matter movement, since the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott on September 20th.

Around 4:00 p.m, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department sent four officers to serve a warrant at The Village at College Downs in Charlotte’s University City District. While sitting in their unmarked car, Keith Lamont Scott parked beside the officers and began rolling his marijuana “blunt.” Officers did not believe this to be a priority until Officer Vinson saw Mr. Scott hold up a firearm.

The officers then put on vests and gave Scott clear and loud commands to drop the gun. He did not comply with the commands and Officer Vinson proceeded to fire his weapon striking the suspect.

This incident has only perpetuated the Black Lives Matter and anti-police movements, issues that have been receiving national attention since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Until now, Charlotte has been able to avoid national attention. Now, the Queen City has become the newest epicenter of racial tension and law enforcement scrutiny, even serving as a talking-point for the presidential election.

The protests began the same day as the shooting. Scott’s family posted online that he was simply “sitting in his car reading a mother——- book.” He was also suffering from a brain injury after a near-fatal motorcycle accident.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney stated there was no book found in the vehicle. There was, however, a gun, an ankle holster, and a blunt that had been smoked. There was also positive DNA and fingerprints of Mr. Scott on the firearm, eliminating any speculation of police planting evidence. It is not the job of the police department to try the case and that is also not the purpose of this article.

Regardless, between September 20th and September 27th, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has made 82 arrests, one of which was for a murder committed by a civilian. CMPD has done their best to keep law and order.

However, in the midst of all the protests, Captain Mike Campagna is working to make a difference and to communicate with the protestors in hopes of building an understanding between the two groups. I spoke to Captain Campagna regarding his involvement in the protests during their peak days (September 20th – 27th).

Captain Campagna has worked for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department for the last 24 years. Today, he is the captain over the Central Division, which is in the heart of uptown where most of the protests have taken place.

Captain Mike Campagna talks with a demonstrator during protests on September 22, 2016, in Charlotte

“During this particular event, I found myself in close company with the protesters, many of which started yelling things at me,” said Captain Campagna, “So instead of not responding to them, as they had grown to expect, I started engaging with them.”

The protesters have begun to recognize Captain Campagna. He logged 60 miles walked over 6 days during the heaviest protesting. This led to him building relationships with the protestors.

“This relationship allowed me to act as a liaison of sorts,” said Captain Campagna, “They would let me know what they wanted to do, and I would try to work it out with our Command Center.”

Even though there is evidence to show that the police did not act unjustifiably in this case,  there are still those who believe that the police hold biases and often act on them. Captain Campagna says that conflict between police and civilians arises from a lack of communication. He would like to see more police take part in community policing and have conversations with citizens that may allow for more understanding on both ends.

We have many, many officers ready, willing and able to engage in these conversations,” said Captain Campagna, “But we have to try to have the conversations when we aren’t in the midst of crisis.”

4 Comments

  1. Great Job Jake! The facts are being overlooked by most mainstream media. Thank you

  2. You’ve conveniently chosen to ignore certain facts yourself. Such as the fact that in North Carolina, the open carry of a handgun is legal, and concealed carry is legal with a permit. Simply seeing a gun on someone is not enough reason to arrest them.

    However, the most concerning thing about this ‘article’ is the fact that the writers of the Wake Forest Review, without fail, immediately condemn the sentiments and mission of Black Lives Matter protesters. Week after week, you continue to justify the policy officers and demonize protesters without taking a second to discuss WHY protesters take the streets to fight for their cause. Institutionalized racism is a horrifically real system, and it very much manifests itself in how police officers enforce the law. No effort has been made on your end to understand why there is so much mistrust for police among black communities, or even the multifaceted ways implicit bias plays a role in how officers police some communities differently from others.

    I am so disappointed in this publication. You are upholding the pillars of white supremacy by even refusing to recognize the rampant bias that underlies this particular shooting. It breaks my heart that I have to share a campus with such close-minded people.

    • Truthtea, It appears as though you may be the one ignoring the facts. Mr. Scott was a convicted felon, so it was illegal for him to possess a weapon at all; concealed or open. Mr. Scott brandished his illegal weapon to the police, and that was enough reason for them to investigate and/or arrest him.

      Secondly, you state, “no effort has been made to understand”. This article, in particular, goes into detail about how a police captain and many, many officers are trying to open lines of communication with protestors in an effort to build a bridge and better understand the cause. There have been police shootings that warrant investigation, but this just isn’t one of them. If you continue to complain without merit or state facts that are not true, it will only weaken your voice when trying to explain your cause. It will cause people to believe that you are the biased and close-minded one.

  3. When you have four police officers pointing their guns at you and telling you to “drop the gun” – why would you not? They told him to drop the weapon 10 or 11 times. If you were faced off in this same situation and you repeatedly tell the man to drop it, and instead he starts slowly backing up and looking at all the officers – what do you think he is getting ready to do? Each second they held their fire and gave him a chance to comply was a second that he could have raised that weapon and shot someone. Action beats reaction every time. Your point about open carry is moot.