This week’s Charlotte riots are creating damage, confusion and concern among the sports world.
Rioters took to the streets of North Carolina’s largest city on Wednesday to protest against police brutality after the death of Keith Lamont Scott, who was killed by a law enforcement officer after allegedly refusing to put down his firearm.
Tear gas was administered by law enforcement to disperse the large crowds forming in the streets late into the night. The rioters caused significant amount of damage to the downtown streets of Charlotte, with shattered glass and debris.
One of the locations that was heavily damaged was the Charlotte Hornets’ team store. Photos emerged of the NBA team’s store, with its windows bashed in and what appeared to be looted shelves.
The owner of the Hornets, Michael Jordan, called for the rioters to cease and desist and focus more on solving the issue through peace.
“First, I want to express my condolences to the Scott family for their loss. I also wish for a full recovery to those who have been injured,” Jordan said.
“In light of the tragic events of the past three days, it is more important than ever that we restore calm and come together, as a community, in peaceful demonstration and conversation, and in constructive and non-violent ways. As part of the fabric of Charlotte, the Hornets organization is committed to working with civic leaders, our elected leaders and law enforcement to foster more trust, transparency and understanding so we can heal and grow together as a community.”
Additionally, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, overseen by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, was damaged.
“The damage at our CRVA venues consists of broken exterior windows at the Charlotte Convention Center and NASCAR Hall of Fame and a breach that took place at one of our tenant spaces at the NASCAR Hall of Fame,” Laura Hill White, director of communications for the CRVA, said.
The riot is the latest event related to nationally-publicized police-related killings of African-American citizens.
Police say they arrived at an apartment complex to search for a man with an outstanding warrant and that, when they arrived, Scott, who is black, exited a vehicle while holding a gun. Police say they ordered Scott to drop the gun multiple times, but Scott allegedly refused to do so. He was then shot and killed by Officer Brently Vinson.
The Carolina Panthers, based in Charlotte, are scheduled to play the Minnesota Vikings in Charlotte on Sunday. And, according NFL vice president of communications Brian McCarthy, the game is still a go.
“We are planning to play the game as scheduled on Sunday,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email to The Associated Press on Thursday. “We are monitoring events in Charlotte and have been in communication with local officials and authorities, and both the Carolina Panthers and the Minnesota Vikings.”
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton expressed his point of view of the situation to Sports Illustrated.
“I’m an African-American,” Newton said. “I am not happy how the justice has been kind of dealt with over the years. The state of oppression in our community. But we also, as black people, have to do right by ourselves. We can’t be hypocrites.
“I say that on one voice but also on another voice that when you go public or when things happen in the community, it’s not the fact that things are happening. It’s the way they’re being treated after they’re happening. When you get a person that does some unjust things or killing an innocent person, killing fathers, killing people who have actual families. That’s real.”
The situation emerged at a tense time within America. In August, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked a conversation revolving around police brutality and mistreatment of African Americans in the United States by kneeling during the national anthem. Since then, several athletes across the NFL, as well as college and high school-level athletes, have joined Kaepernick in protest.
One of the players that has supported Kaepernick is Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. Sherman opted not to answer questions Wednesday at his press conference regarding his upcoming game against the San Francisco 49ers. Sherman instead took the time to say people were choosing to protest for the very reason Scott was killed.
“The state of things in the world today is very … interesting,” Sherman said. “You have players who are trying to take a stand and who try to be aware of social issues to try to make a stand and increase people’s awareness and put a spotlight on it, and they’re being ignored. I mean, whether they are taking a knee or they’re locking arms, they’re trying to bring people together and unite them for a cause. And I think people are still missing the point. You know, the reason these guys are kneeling, and the reason we’re locking arms, is to bring people together, to make people aware that this is not right.”
It’s a stand for people, mainly African-Americans, who are getting executed in the street at the hands of law enforcement. Just four days before Scott’s death, Terence Crutcher, an African-American, was shot and killed in the streets of Tulsa by law enforcement. Crutcher was unarmed.
Newton believes that is very troubling. Because if it can happen to anybody, it could happen to him.
“I have a son and a daughter that I’m responsible for,” Newton said. “So how would I be if one day they come home and there’s no more daddy?”
⦁ Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.