“We are planning to play the game as scheduled on Sunday,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a written statement. “We are monitoring events in Charlotte and have been in communication with local officials and authorities, and both the Carolina Panthers and the Minnesota Vikings.”
The Panthers and Vikings are scheduled to play at 1 p.m. Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.
ESPN’s David Newton reported Thursday morning that Carolina Panthers officials were meeting to discuss security plans for Sunday’s home game against the Minnesota Vikings in light of the protests that have rocked the city in recent days. According to Newton, the Panthers’ main concern is whether there will be enough law-enforcement officers available to handle both the game and any continuing protests.
Violent protests continued for a second night Wednesday after a Charlotte police officer shot and killed a black man named Keith Lamont Scott on Tuesday afternoon. In a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Charlotte police insisted that Scott had a gun and was posing an “imminent deadly threat” when officers shot him outside an apartment complex located about 15 minutes from Bank of America Stadium, where the Panthers play.
The protests, which began Tuesday night in the areas near the shooting, moved to Charlotte’s downtown area on Wednesday, closer to where the Panthers play. Protesters and police clashed outside the Omni Hotel, located a little less than a mile from Bank of America Stadium. According to Newton, windows were broken on the ground floor of the building in which NASCAR has its offices, and the Charlotte Observer reports that the NASCAR Hall of Fame building was vandalized. NASCAR closed its downtown offices on Thursday along with Bank of America, which is headquartered in the city.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency just before midnight on Wednesday. Newton reports that more protests are anticipated on Sunday.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton on Wednesday was asked about the killings of mostly unarmed black men by police in America.
“I’m an African American. I am not happy with or how justice has been kind of dealt with over the years, you know, the state of oppression in our community,” he said.
According to David Newton, a man carrying a megaphone during Wednesday night’s protests demanded that people burn their Cam Newton jerseys if the quarterback failed to take a knee during the national anthem on Sunday.
Carolina Coach Ron Rivera, meanwhile, said violence was not the “right way” to protest injustice.
“Eight years ago, this country did something nobody ever thought we would do. We elected an African American president,” Rivera said, per the Charlotte Observer. “Why did we do that? Because people got up and voted. There was a movement. We changed things. This country changed things because that’s what happened.
“So maybe instead of tearing up your own city, maybe instead of doing things the wrong way, we do things the right way. This is a democratic society. Like I said, vote. It’s the most powerful thing we have. That’s what the men and women of our armed services fought for – these rights.”