The fatal police shooting of Keith Scott got national attention a year ago in Charlotte. “I think we’re the same as we were,” said Willie Ratchford of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee. “I think we are still at a point in this community where the very thing that happened after that shooting can happen again.”
Not much is different in Charlotte nearly a year after the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott and the nationally televised street protests that followed. That was the majority view Wednesday night of a six-person panel representing community organizers, scholars, activists, the city of Charlotte, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the Charlotte Observer reports. “I think we’re the same as we were,” said Willie Ratchford of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee. “I think we are still at a point in this community where the very thing that happened after that shooting can happen again.” Systemic racism, a lack of trust of the police department and the plight of residents struggling with poverty were among the issues panelists identified as needing much greater and more urgent attention.
“We’ve got to do some more work around trust … around understanding … and around vision and planning,” said Susan McCarter of the social work faculty at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. She said some agencies and institutions in the city are reluctant to study their own data for fear that it will show discrimination. Assistant police chief Vicki Foster said police have worked hard since last year to improve transparency, reach out to at-risk young people and train officers against bias that could affect their work on the job. Still, she said, “we’re at a place where, whatever we do, it’s not going to be enough. … I’m not here to say we’ve done everything, but we’ve done a lot.” Ash Williams, an organizer with Charlotte Uprising, which has been in the forefront in protesting police shootings, argued that the city has not come very far in the last 51 weeks, citing statements of people like Scott’s widow and people whose family members were shot by Charlotte police this year.