Attorney General Loretta Lynch, a native of North Carolina, welcomed peaceful protest but admonished violence as she addressed the recent police-involved shooting in Charlotte and related protests on Thursday during a press conference.
Lynch said the Department of Justice and the FBI are currently monitoring the “tragic events.” Keith Lamont Scott was shot by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Brentley Vinson on Tuesday afternoon.
Scott’s family says he was reading a book. Police Chief Kerr Putney says officers saw Scott emerge from the car with a handgun.
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“For the second day in a row, protests in response to Mr. Scott’s death took place in Charlotte last night. For the second day in a row, those protests were marred by violence, this time leaving one person on life support and several persons injured, an awful reminder that violence often only begets violence. Details of what happened last night are still under review by authorities.
“But today, the Department of Justice is sending four members of our Community Relations Service to Charlotte. Our Office of community-oriented policing service has offered local assistance and support for crowd mediation to local police, and the FBI stands ready to assist local law enforcement as well.
“To the people and state of North Carolina, a beautiful state, a great state and my home state: I know that these events are difficult times, and I know that the events of recent days are painfully unclear and that they call out for answers. I also know that the answer will not be found in the violence of recent days.
I urge those responsible for bringing violence to these demonstrations to stop, because you’re drowning out the voices of commitment and change, and you’re ushering in more tragedy and grief in our communities.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch
“Let us all seek a peaceful way forward. Most of the demonstrators gathered last night were exercising their constitutional and protected right to peaceful protest in order to raise issues and promote peaceful change. We need your voice, we need your passion and we need your commitment. But I urge those responsible for bringing violence to these demonstrations to stop, because you’re drowning out the voices of commitment and change, and you’re ushering in more tragedy and grief in our communities.
“And the events in Charlotte and in Tulsa, Oklahoma, earlier this week once again have underscored the divisions that persist between law enforcement officers and the communities that we serve, particularly communities of color.
“And one of my top priorities as attorney is to do everything in my power to heal those divides. The Department of Justice will continue working tirelessly to protect the rights of all Americans, to give law enforcement the resources they need to do their jobs safely and fairly to open dialogue, to promote reconciliation and to reduce violence of all kinds in this country.
“But as we’ve seen in recent months, despite these efforts and the efforts of many others across the country, we have come together far too many times with thoughts and prayers for victims of violence, civilians and law enforcement officers alike. And too many times, we’ve allowed ourselves to be pulled down the easy path of blame and accusation, rather than the harder path of empathy and understanding. Let us choose that path. Let us work together to ensure that all Americans have both a voice and value in this great value of ours.
“And let my reaffirm my full commitment and the full commitment of the Department of Justice to advancing that effort. And those who are exercising, the most fundamental of freedoms, we hear your voices and we feel your pain.
“And to all the law enforcement officers who continue to risk their lives day in and day out to keep us safe and to protect those essential freedoms, I extend my deepest thanks and support. But finally, I urge all Americans to ask themselves what they can do to contribute to the more peaceful, the more perfect and the more just union that is our shared heritage, that is our mutual responsibility and that is our common goal.”