CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Protesters showed up in force Monday night at the Charlotte City Council meeting, calling for Mayor Jennifer Roberts and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Chief Kerr Putney to resign in the wake of last week's officer-involved shooting of Keith Scott.
Angry Charlotte residents verbally lashed City Council members for hours, complaining about what they called unaccountable police officers and civilian leaders who have failed to force change as the city marked a week of protests since the shooting.
The meeting started on a tense note, with dozens refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Things only escalated from there, with protesters calling Charlotte City Council members incompetent and a failure for the way in which the protests were handled.
More than 50 people of all ages spoke against the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott, dozens demanding both Roberts and Putney resign.
Council members heard person after person tell them they failed the city by the way they handled the protests. They all railed against the killing of.
Many of the speakers carried signs expressing their anger. One man's sign called for the repeal of legislation taking effect Oct. 1 that blocks the release of police video without a court order. Many speakers demanded that police release all video footage of the confrontation.
Scott's family and advocacy groups complain that the department divulged only about three minutes of footage from two cameras. They have urged the police department to release all other video footage it has, as well as audio recordings of communications that could clarify how the situation unfolded. A media coalition also is requesting more footage.
"We have no reason to trust you, and you're giving us even less," Khasha Harris told City Council members.
Some of those speakers were children, who said they were too scared to leave their homes.
One of the more powerful moments from Monday’s meeting came when a young girl told the council she now feels she is treated differently because of her skin color.
Many in the crowd were brought to tears by the comments of Zianna Oliphant, a child who needed a stool to be seen over the lectern.
“We are black people, and we shouldn’t have to feel like this. We shouldn’t have to protest because y’all are treating us wrong. We do this because we need to and we have rights,” Oliphant said.
Roberts encouraged Oliphant to speak her mind and other protesters cheered her on.
The girl added that she doesn't want to see any other fathers or mothers killed.
“It's a shame that our fathers and mothers are killed and we can't see them anymore,” she said.
Oliphant told Channel 9 why it is important to be brave. -Click Play-
The meeting seemed to get out of control early, and Roberts called for a five minute recess to give council members a breather.
“We hate you,” one protester said.
Council member Kenny Smith said the council should be listening and taking action to answer the concerns.
"The unrest here has been decades in the making," council member Al Alston said. "Tuesday was the boiling point, and it's getting hotter."
Roberts found herself surrounded by people who no longer trust her. Her voice eventually became soft and her eyes appeared teary at times.
“We need leadership that is willing to stand up to speak boldly for truth and justice,” Rev. Trevor Beauford said.
“You do not deserve to be the mayor of this fine city,” said protester Henry Lee.
There was one exception. The first speaker of the night said he supports Putney.
“I found the chief to be a man of very high integrity who does what he says,” Marcus Philmon said.
He was then booed and heckled off the podium by the chamber.
"It's going to be rough in these streets until you give justice to our people," said the Rev. Milton Williams, the final speaker in a three-hour string. "Our city's in an uproar, and you did not respond."
Channel 9 directly asked the mayor if she still supports the police chief.
“First of all, the city manager is the person who hires and fires the police chief,” Roberts said when asked if Putney should resign. “So if that were even to be a consideration, it would be...it would take a lot of discussion, so I'm not going to make any comments on that question."
In Tuesday morning's Charlotte Observer, Roberts said there was an unacceptable lack of transparency in the investigation into Scott's death.
The mayor also went on to say that "the lack of transparency and communication about the timing of the investigation and the release of video was not acceptable."
She wrote that she has asked the Department of Justice to monitor the investigation into Scott's death, and to review CMPD use of force procedures.
In the editorial, Roberts said she is now pushing to reverse the new state law that goes into effect Oct. 1 that would require a court order to release any police video.
She is also planning a series of town hall meetings to figure out what the city can do to become more accountable and transparent.
Channel 9 has reached out to Chief Putney to ask what he thinks of these concerns and the protesters who are calling for his resignation, and are waiting to hear back.
NC NAACP demands Department of Justice investigation
There was a bit of a different scene at a church Monday night, and that mood continued on the streets of Charlotte afterwards.
Channel 9 reporter Elsa Gillis described the crowd as passionate, diverse and peaceful.
Rev. Dr. William Barber, of the North Carolina NAACP, started by thanking everyone who has been out marching in peaceful protest and told them to continue.
He then presented a set of demands asking that all police tape related to the death of Keith Lamont Scott be released and that the Department of Justice launch their own investigation into his death.
The demands called for policy changes on certain policy practices including the use of police video and lethal force.
Barber called for criminal justice reform and for legislation that would take steps to stop racial profiling.
"We are not anti-police. We are anti-police brutality. When you see folks marching in the street - Black Lives Matter - they are black, they are white, they are young, they are old, they are gay, they are straight, they are people of faith, people of no faith. Governor there is a state of emergency. There's a state of emergency of racism. There's a state of emergency in poverty. There's a state of emergency in equality," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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