CHARLOTTE — Nearly a week after the police shooting of a black man here sparked sometimes violent protests, the Queen City remains in a state of limbo.
On Sunday afternoon, the windows of the CVS at the popular Epicentre in Uptown were still covered with planks of wood, and the surrounding streets were unusually quiet as many regulars continued to stay away. National Guard members, called to service by the governor after some demonstrations turned violent, are scattered throughout the area with armored vehicles.
Small groups of protesters continued to call for more information about the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, looping the streets around Bank of America Stadium — where the National Football League’s Charlotte Panthers played the Minnesota Vikings — while chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
But there also were signs that some in the city were ready to return to normal. Late Saturday night, Sarah and Timothy Rogers, 27 and 29 years old, respectively, rode in a rickshaw through the Uptown area after their wedding. Protesters were just a few blocks away, but the newlyweds, still in a suit and white dress, took time to high-five passersby on the way to their hotel.
On Sunday, Jimmy Tompkins, 31, tossed a football in Romare Bearden Park with his son and a few other children. The park, where demonstrators have sometimes gathered while marching in the city, is near the football stadium, which, Tompkins said, is usually full of activities, including bounce houses and face painting, on game days.
“This normally is a big open park, fun event,” he said. “So obviously they pulled the brakes.”
Late Sunday night, the city lifted a midnight curfew it put in place Thursday after several days of protests.
The death of Scott, 43, a father of seven, has turned Charlotte into the latest epicenter for the national debate about how the police treat minorities. In an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said the recent spate of police shootings and protests demands that all Americans engage in “more listening” and “more learning.”
“It’s heartbreaking,” Ryan said. “And this country has to find new ways of learning how to heal and understand all the different perspectives.”
Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence echoed statements by GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump last week that those who question bias in policing demean law enforcement and stoke racial tension.
“At the end of the day, we need to step away from efforts by Hillary Clinton and others to paint law enforcement in this country with the broad brush of racial bias,” Pence said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
On “Face the Nation,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), who lost the Democratic primaries to Clinton, identified young voters’ exhaustion with bigotry as one of the reasons that they should get excited about Clinton’s candidacy. “The younger people are . . . more than any generation in American history, are sick and tired of discrimination and racism.”
But for Charlotte, the questions sparked by Scott’s death will take longer to answer. Protesters were frustrated that the city’s police department released only some of the video footage collected during Scott’s encounter with police.
“They’re trying to slap us in the face [by providing limited information], thinking we’re going to shut up,” Quina Jones, 25, said as she and hundreds of other demonstrators moved through the city early Sunday morning. “We’re not going to stop. It’s going to go on every day.”
From afar, the city can appear to be an economic powerhouse. It is the home of Bank of America, one of the largest banks in the world, and its business district has new buildings anchored by sports stadiums and a light-rail system.
Yet, a 2014 study by Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley found that poor children in Charlotte have the worst odds of those in any big city in the nation to lift themselves out of poverty. Large sections of the city are divided by race and income, other studies have shown. The Charlotte Observer found that 1 in 4 residents lived in distressed neighborhoods in 2010, up from 1 in 10 in 2000.
“To be frank, the city will never go back to normal as we understood it, and this is a good thing,” said the Rev. Peter Wherry, of Mayfield Memorial Missionary Baptist Church. “What appeared to be normal was only normal for some. That is the blessing that has come out of this.”
Janell Ross in Washington contributed to this report.