CHARLOTTE, N.C., Sept. 27 (UPI) — Angry Charlotte residents demanded the resignation of their mayor during a City Council meeting one week after the shooting death of a black man by a police officer.
Mayor Jennifer Roberts, who ran the meeting, listened to comments for two hours Monday night, including from young children. Frequently she was shouted down when she tried to speak.
More than 40 people signed up to speak at the first City Council meeting after the death of Keith Lamont Scott on Tuesday, Sept. 20. Police say he had a gun, but family members insist it was a book. His death led to three days of protests and riots in the city.
Speakers were emotional, some calling for Roberts and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney to resign.
“I’m here to ask for Chief Putney’s and your resignation, mayor,” said speaker Henry Lee. “The way it was handled, the secrecy, the lies. We don’t deserve this. People are losing their lives, and you are backing these people with these policies. You don’t deserve to be the mayor of this fine city. You are on verge of bringing this fine city to its knees – step down.”
Several speakers began with the chant “No Justice!” and then the crowd shouted “No Peace!”
Another woman said “All Lives Matter!” and then the crowd shouted “When Black Lives Matter!”
A young girl, Zianna Oliphant, had to use a step ladder to address the audience.
“It’s a shame that our fathers and mothers are killed and we can’t see them anymore,” she said as tears streamed down her face. “It’s a shame that we have to go to their graveyard and bury them. And we have tears. We shouldn’t have tears. We need our fathers and mothers to be by our side.”
She wiped her cheeks on her short sleeves.
“We are black people and we shouldn’t have to feel like this,” she said. “We shouldn’t have to protest because y’all are treating us wrong. We do this because we need to and have rights.”
A 10-year-old boy, Taje Gaddy, spoke about his fear of the police.
As the crowd shouted to support him, Roberts asked for quiet. But people shouted back, asking, “Where are your tears?”
Council members also were interrupted as they attempted to talk.
“You’re telling me you’re coming to my house. You tell me I look like Donald Trump. You tell me I’m smirking. That doesn’t feel good,” council member Kenny Smith said. “… But we need to talk. We need to do it together.”
Council member Ed Driggs said, “We have to continue to support our chief, who is an honest man.”
He was shouted down.
Roberts and Putney were criticized for initially refusing to release body camera and dashboard camera video from the shooting.
But on Saturday, the police department released the footage.
Before the meeting, Roberts wrote in an Op-Ed in The Charlotte Observer that the city’s “lack of transparency and communication about the timing of the investigation and release of video footage” was not acceptable and must be remedied.
She asked the U.S. Justice Department to monitor the state’s investigation into the shooting death, and said she wanted a review of the police department’s use of force procedures.
“Our city must be more open, honest, and transparent in investigating police shootings if we are to restore trust,” she wrote.
Also before the meeting, several organizations released demands.
Grass-roots organization Tribe called for Putney and Roberts to resign. During a news conference, the group said it believes the chief mishandled the investigation and Roberts didn’t deal with the situation correctly.
The North Carolina NAACP State Conference, Charlotte Mecklenburg branch of the NAACP and the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice say they want police brutality addressed and called for the repeal of North Carolina House Bill 972, which starting next month blocks the public from accessing police video recordings.