September 22, 2016

Local Student Reports on Life In Charlotte, NC, Right Now

sageKansas City will always be my home. However right now I live in and attend school in Charlotte, North Carolina. This past Tuesday, the 20th of September, Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by an officer. A live stream was posted on Facebook by a woman claiming to be his daughter. The police said he was armed, she said he was not. But I’m not going to talk about Keith. His death only immediately affected me in the same way that every other sudden and violent death has affected us all lately. I’m here to talk about what happened after.

There was a peaceful protest scheduled for that night. One of my roommates asked if I wanted to go. I told her I’d come with her, and I was getting ready to go when I remembered how much homework I had to do. I am SO glad that we did not go. It was only a few short hours before things started to escalate.

Hundreds of people gathered not ten minutes from my home. People were angry and afraid, someone threw a rock, then a bottle, then all of a sudden SWAT teams showed up, the police had riot gear, someone was standing on top of a police car screaming that “We are done letting you kill us! We are done letting you get away with it!.” It just kept getting more violent. In just an hour or so they had moved from the area and gone over to the highway.

Hundreds of people flooded the street, stopping cars, smashing window, breaking into trucks and setting their contents on fire. At 4:30AM it stopped.

The next day in class we didn’t talk about it. We thought that it was over. We were so incredibly wrong.

Wednesday night we heard that there was going to be a vigil held in the park. My school emailed us to tell us about the vigil and to warn us to be cautious.

At 10PM on the 21st of September, shots were fired only five minutes from my building. Not even a five minute drive. A five minute walk. My roommate and I were with a peer mentor (an older student who provides help) at the time. Another peer mentor was at work where shots were being fired. We texted him and told him that there were police in riot gear, that there were shots and tear gas and to keep an eye out.

We sat quietly in our room. Away from the windows, the blinds shut, and the windows locked.

charlotte-riots-2Not an hour later our peer mentor got another text. Shots fired right outside our building. At this point we were afraid. There were sirens every few seconds, we could hear the cars screeching past the building trying to get away. I turned on the live stream, not even three blocks from us, a walk that my roommate and I made just this past Sunday night, there were hundreds of people flooding the streets. Cars were trapped in and the police were out in full riot gear. They stopped the busses, the closed the transit center. People on the other side of my building could hear the flash grenades. The Marriott hotel only across a small parking lot from us had their windows smashed open, rioters tried to force their way in. I watched on live TV as people were pepper sprayed in the eyes. The rioters had brought milk to flush the spray out of their eyes. I watched as a reporter accidentally got too close, and when the tear gas went off he was doubled over choking and gagging as behind him parents were picking up their children and shielding them with their bodies. The flash grenade going off at the same time made it look like some sick twisted 4th of July celebration. It was not the protesters that did this. It was a handful of angry people who rallied support anyway they could so that they could break and steal things.

Today, I didn’t go to class. I don’t want to go outside. Everything is suffocatingly quiet. No music in cars that are driving by, the buzz of the city is muted. Bank of America and Wells Fargo both closed work today. We are waiting tensely to see how things are going to go tonight. State troopers are here and the national guard is waiting quietly in the sidelines. We are in a state of emergency, they are talking about enforcing a citywide curfew. No one wants to talk about it but everyone is rushing to get away from uptown before the weekend starts. No one wants to talk about it, no one wants to think about it, but we are all afraid, holding our breath, waiting for night to fall.

Sage Wolfe is a sophomore attending college in Charlotte, NC. She is from Kansas City.

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