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North Carolina bishops call for peace

30 September 2016


State of emergency: police officers in Charlotte, NC, try to move protesters as a prayer vigil turns into a second night of violence last week, after the shooting of a black man by a police officer

State of emergency: police officers in Charlotte, NC, try to move protesters as a prayer vigil turns into a second night of violence last week, after ...

THE RC Bishop of Charlotte, the Rt Revd Peter Jugis, has prayed for “peace and justice” in the diocese, after a man was shot and killed by police in Charlotte, on Tuesday of last week, leading to violent protests.

Keith Lamont Scott, an African American, was shot outside an apartment complex, and later died in hospital, after refusing to give up a firearm, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said in a statement. But the family of Mr Scott, including his wife, Rakeyia, who was present during the incident, say that he was unarmed and carrying a book.

In a video taken by Mrs Scott, Officer Brentley Vinson, also an African American, who police con­firmed fired the shot, can be heard urging her husband to “drop the gun” while she tells police that he is unarmed.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the site on the evenings of Tuesday and Wednesday last week, chanting “No justice, no peace,” and calling for the release of police video footage of the incident. A state of emergency was later declared in the city by the state Governor, Pat McCrory, after rioters reportedly threw objects at police and looted businesses on both nights.

Bishop Jugis said in a statement on Thursday of last week: “Let us pray for all men and women of good will to be instruments of harmony.”

Reports emerged of another shooting at the scene, last Friday, where two arrests were made. Police have not confirmed whether the two incidents were connected.

The Bishop of North Carolina, the Rt Revd Anne Hodges-Copple, said in a video statement: “Once again a deep kind of violence and gloom was enshrouding this land very near by. . . These events seem shocking and yet repetitive. We call on the peacemakers who work towards justice, reconciliation, and healing.”

She has previously expressed concern over racism in the diocese. A Bishop’s Committee for “Racial Justice and Reconciliation” was set up, offering parishioners, clergy, and staff the opportunity to conduct a “racial reconciliation seminar”.

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