This September will mark one year since the Charlotte riots.
I remember it as if it happened yesterday. What started out on that sunny day as a loud and ugly (but non-violent) daytime march, rapidly convulsed into chaos. Fires were set, fights broke out, windows were busted, rocks thrown from overpasses onto passing vehicles and businesses looted. Protestors smashed their way into the Hyatt, punching the desk clerks and spray painting the windows. “Activists” and provocateurs from states far and wide joined the deteriorating maelstrom. The company my husband works for, as well as many others, ordered their employees to get, and stay, out of the city.
Our rattled mayor sympathized with those who were angry about what they felt was an unjustified police shooting that had recently taken place. She encouraged those who wanted to legitimately demonstrate and vent their frustrations to do so. “We are open for business as usual” was her statement the morning after one protestor was shot in the head by another right outside the doors of the Omni Hotel.
Authorities tried to vent the “fumes” from the city by gently cracking open a window. In no time flat, the entire roof blew off.
The occupation didn’t come to an end until the National Guard rolled into the streets. I vividly remember watching aerial footage of the last of the troublemakers scurrying out of the city, scattering onto the highway and bringing traffic to a standstill.
When all was said and done, Charlotte suffered untold loss of business and 5 million dollars worth of property damage. The protestor who was shot died the next day and scores more suffered injuries; including one unfortunate kid who had the living heck beat out of him by a roving mob in a downtown parking garage.
Law enforcement, politicians and anyone watching that week learned a valuable lesson:
NEVER play footsie with those spoiling for a fight.
Sadly it seems, not everyone was paying attention.