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Charlotte riots: More rampage than outrage

The riots in Charlotte Wednesday night were shameful on a number of levels. Having moved from Charlotte to Ennis in April, the scenes unfolding on television were somewhat unreal and mind-boggling.

Charlotte, as a city, has invested heavily in revitalizing its downtown during the past 15 years or so. The Epicenter, with its mix of shops and nightlife, is perhaps the crowning glory of that revitalization effort in the Queen City. But last night, it was the epicenter of a protest that quickly devolved into a riot.

But why? The psychology and sociology at play there is more a reflection of the influence that social media now has than the dichotomy of the city or real anger over the police shooting of a black man.  Based on some of the interviews of protesters, it would appear that the socio-economic status of the rioters was as mixed as the rationale for a riot was totally mixed up. One has to wonder if there’s ever a good excuse for a riot…

Charlotte is a very healthy town economically. Granted, like any other city in America, there are areas of town where the economic engine driving the growth in Charlotte has seemingly passed them by. But the upscale neighborhood—only 20 minutes removed from the downtown area—where my wife and I lived was very racially diverse, and we all got along. The offices where I went to work every day are less than a half mile from the Epicenter. One of the publications I was managing hosted a Women In Leadership awards banquet at the Hilton Hotel just one block over.

It’s unimaginable that such violence and destruction could take place in an area where my co-workers and I would frequently have lunch. A lot of damage has been done in just one night. More than just the physical damage, this night of lawlessness will cost the city dearly economically. The rioting has taken place at the foot of glistening hotels like the Ritz Carlton, Le Meridien, and the aforementioned Hilton to name just a few. The area is teeming with restaurants and nightlife as well.

Now, under a state of emergency with the National Guard being deployed to restore order, who could be blamed for cancelling a reservation, or moving a convention to another destination? More than fixing some broken glass, Charlotte’s tourism economy could be shattered and it may take a long time to pick up the pieces.

This could have been a peaceful protest that made a powerful statement about the police shooting of a black man. It’s worth noting that authorities have said there is ample evidence that shows this particular man did have a handgun and he was not following lawful orders from the police. But social media chatter to the contrary is what fueled the riots, according to officials.

Even more alarming, once the chaos had reached a fever pitch, there were those elements in the crowd who saw this as an opportunity to get free stuff. Indeed, this was the entitlement generation run amok.  One of the shops that were ransacked at the Epicenter had two items that were in high demand: Red Bull and cigarettes. A couple of blocks over, the fan store at the Charlotte Hornets arena is now devoid of its entire stock of pricey sneakers. A few blocks from there, the hallowed ground that serves as a Mecca for race fans everywhere, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, couldn’t escape the senseless pillaging of rioters who took the opportunity to snatch up memorabilia on display. No doubt some of these items will probably pop up on for sale on Craigslist in the next few days.

This lawlessness is sheer lunacy, and the motives behind it are suspect as well. It needs to stop now.

Keven Todd is publisher of The Ennis Daily News.

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Posted by on Sep 22 2016. Filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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