UPDATE: This morning the UNC Chancellor made a statement:
“…can assure all faculty, staff, and students, and their families that the campus was secure at all times… [the school] was in immediate and continuing contact with the city’s law enforcement officials and were able to ascertain that there was not a threat to our campus, our employees, or our on-campus residents,”
I can say that I feel only slightly better. It’s nice that he made a statement, but it would have been nice to have SOMETHING from the school last night when all of this was going on, and we were all borderline panicked and needed some reassurance from the university.
Hey campus police, where you at? Can we get an alert letting us know WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON OUTSIDE?
“How can UNC Charlotte be so silent about what’s going on tonight RIGHT DOWN THE STREET??? It is my opinion that class should be canceled tomorrow. The riots are spilling over onto highway 49, and onto Interstate 85 and WT Harris Blvd is blocked, and we don’t get a single email from the school or campus police. Crazy.” -Hannah Thrush”
Hannah gets me. Let me just start this article off by saying that this is very much a “things racing through my mind as I sit at my desk with every possible ounce of adrenaline coursing through my body because a gun/bomb riot is happening five minutes away from me and I definitely heard gunshots” type of article. So if my vernacular seems a tad rudimentary, you’ll have to excuse me. It’s 3:41 in the morning, I am all alone in my apartment, and there’s definitely a riot happening less than two miles away from me right now.
I am not a fearful person…but it makes my stomach churn to be sitting at my desk writing a paper, take a break and go on Facebook and Instagram for a few minutes of mindless scrolling, only to read about a riot that is happening right next to my campus, read that 12 officers are injured, that protestors are screaming things like, “WE’RE LIKE THE TALIBAN,” and THEN hear a gunshot in the distance.
As I’m scrolling through, I’m seeing so many crazy, horrifying, and contradicting things (here’s some of it).
Here’s what I know for sure:
Tuesday afternoon, Charlotte Police Officer Brentley Vinson (black) shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott (also black). Tuesday night, people gathered and blocked I-85 and the surrounding area in protest. They began lighting fires, and throwing crudely homemade bombs down at the officers, resulting in tear gas and rubber bullets being used on the protestors and 12 officers being injured.
Here’s what I don’t know for sure:
If Scott was in the wrong… Some are saying that Scott was unarmed, and that he was just quietly reading a book in his car. Others are saying that he emerged from his car with a gun in his hand, pointed at an officer.
I also don’t know if this protest was at one point early on intended to be a peaceful one… I am reading the posts of many people fuming on Instagram about how this is an outrage because it was just a peaceful protest. On the other hand, others are exclaiming that all the violence from the protestors isn’t doing anyone any good, and that it’s especially not shedding any positive light on the Black Lives Matter movement.
But the one thing I am consistently seeing, is my fellow classmates speaking out in fear and anger about what is going on out there.
“To all my loves in Charlotte: it is not your constitutional right to protest. It is your constitutional right to peaceably assemble according to the law. You have to be permitted, you have to be peaceful. Stay safe.” -Emily Boening”
“Black men, be sure your cars are working properly before you leave the house. If they aren’t, and you’re on the side of the road chances are you may be killed by law enforcement. Oh yeah and don’t read a book while waiting for your child after school. Chances are, you may be killed by law enforcement. While I’m at it, don’t be black in America. Chances are, you may be killed by law enforcement. I typed and deleted this three times. But I don’t care. I’m angry and black lives matter!” -Tynaiza Whitaker
“Probably going to hear helicopters all night. Pray. Pray. Pray. Innocent people dying everyday by the people who have sworn to protect us. This has to come to an end. Pray. Pray. Pray. Where is the love?” -Hydeia Shaw
I don’t know exactly what’s happening out there, because right now I’m mostly concerned with staying inside and not putting myself in danger, so I don’t know what of everything I’m reading online is accurate. I don’t know, sitting here scrolling through my Instagram watching videos of people screaming and blue smoke rising off the ground, what in the world is happening in my city tonight. I just know that it’s been almost seven hours of this protest, I don’t want to leave my apartment to go to class in the morning, and I don’t like that my school’s police department — who notifies us when there is a single snowflake descending from the sky — has so far said absolutely nothing about this violent protest taking place right next to the campus that houses over 5,000 of its students and is surrounded by apartment complexes housing even more of them, including me.
Editors note: This article was updated to include new information.