Reporter's Notebook: 6 months after Charlotte's chaos

Reporter's Notebook: 6 months after Charlotte's chaos

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The intersection of Trade and College is different now.

I can't drive by it without images of broken glass and police officers lined up in riot gear parading through my mind. If I try hard enough, I can still taste the tear gas. I can feel my eyes burning as mascara streamed down my face. The sounds of flash bangs and protesters chanting can still be heard in quiet echoes.

Not a day goes by I don't think about the week that scarred Charlotte.

It's hard to believe six months have passed since Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by CMPD Officer Brentley Vinson.

I was working on another story that afternoon, I think it was about gas prices in South Carolina when my producer called saying there was an officer-involved shooting in the University area. I entered the new destination in my GPS and headed that way.

I've covered my fair share of police shootings. At first, this one didn't seem unique.

Chief Kerr Putney addressed reporters saying their suspect had a gun and his officer fired because he felt he was in danger. Scott's family said the opposite, insisting the item in the man's hand was a book. Their message spread like wildfire.

I watched as the crowd went from 10 to 100 to nearly 1,000. As the sun set, frustration turned into anger and then flat outrage. Most of the people there had never crossed paths with Scott but they wanted to know why he was dead.

Right before our 11:00 pm show, I called my producer and said we'd need to throw whatever we had planned out the window. Some of the protesters had morphed into rioters.

In the hours that followed, our crews watched as they smashed a CMPD police cruiser. One of our photographers had a rock thrown at his head.

Something--I still don't know what it was--was lobbed at my back with such force that it knocked the wind right out of me. A kind reporter from the Observer scooped me up. I don't know if I've ever said thank you, so, thank you, Ely.

We eventually went off the air but that didn't mean the demonstrations stopped. We watched rioters make their way onto Interstate 85. Coleen Harry and I stood on the overpass above watching as they started fires in stopped traffic and hurled pieces of concrete at vehicles speeding by in opposite direction.

I'm still shocked no one was killed that night.

I think we finally went home around 6 am. I climbed into bed, but how could I sleep? Would the next night be the same?

Of course, we all know it was. Many of you probably watched live as our polished Queen City lost its sparkle during the second night of protests.

Rioters destroyed storefronts and hotels. They stood toe to toe with police officers spewing some of the most hateful words my ears have ever heard. Things were said about their wives and children while officers stood stone-faced.

Unfortunately, the attention was given to the people who were destructive and violent. I don't believe many of them had a message to spread except hate.

A lot of the demonstrators I met that week were kind and generous. They thanked us for our coverage and hard work. One even apologized for the person who threw something at me. Those people were still angry. They wanted answers from police but didn't smash up the Ritz Carlton to get a response. They used their voices instead.

In the six months that have followed, there's been a lot of good conversation between the police and the community they serve. I can only speak as an observer but I believe it's been productive.

A CMPD captain told me he walked 60 miles that week with protesters. When they wanted to talk, he listened and vice versa.

Some of the relationships formed on the streets of uptown between officers and activists are still flourishing today. That week a jewel was taken out of the Queen City's crown. But slowly, I think her majesty is starting to shine again.

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