Charlotte's mayor has imposed a curfew after days of unrest in the North Carolina city. However, police said that they did not want to forcibly remove people from the streets if protests remained peaceful.
Mayor Jennifer Roberts announced on Thursday night that she had imposed a curfew on the southern city from midnight to 6 a.m. local time.
The decision came as protestorsfilled the streets for the third night following the death of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, who was shot by a black police officer earlier this week. It's the latest in a string of killings by police officers of black men across the US, a trend that has inspired the "Black Lives Matter" movement and become a focal point in the presidential race.
Protestors on Thursday were largely peaceful after two nights of violent, chaotic clashes that led to injuries, looting, vandalism and arrests. But police were forced to use tear gas on some protestors who had been blocking a highway. Earlier in the week, police had used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the people on the street. So dangerous were the conditions that several major banks told their employees to stay home.
One protestor dead
One protestor, 26-year-old Justin Carr, who was shot by a civilian during Wednesday night's demonstration, died in the hospital on Thursday. He had earlier been placed on life support.
Several buildings were damaged in the chaos, including the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the downtown Charlotte Hyatt hotel. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency on Wednesday in response to the chaos.
Charlotte police have refused to publically release video footage reportedly showing Scott's killing, though the dead man's family was allowed to view it on Thursday. "While police did give him several commands, he did not aggressively approach them or raise his hands at members of law enforcement at any time," said the family's attorney upon seeing the footage.
Police Chief Kerr Putney told the media that the video didn't clearly indicate if Scott was holding a gun at the time he was killed. Police accounts say Scott refused to drop a gun before being shot.
A public release of the video could be key to easing tensions in the city, as protestors reject the official narrative of Scott's death. Under state law, a judge must approve the release of a police video, something Putney said he wouldn't pursue.
Meanwhile, Robert Pittenger, a Republican congressman from North Carolina, sparked further controversy when he said, during an interview with the BBC, that the people were protesting because they resented white people.
"The grievance in their mind is - the animus, the anger - they hate white people because white people are successful and they're not," Pittenger said.
He later issued a statement apologizing for the remark.
blc/kl (AP, Reuters, dpa)