Charlotte police union official acknowledges ‘I didn’t quote facts’ on out-of-state protesters

Protesters confront bicycle officers along Trade Street in Charlotte on Wednesday night.
Protesters confront bicycle officers along Trade Street in Charlotte on Wednesday night. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

A spokesman for Charlotte’s Fraternal Order of Police told CNN that 70 percent of the protesters arrested in Charlotte this week were from out-of-state. But he acknowledged Friday that his statement was nothing more than speculation.

It was also inaccurate, according to a Charlotte Observer review of police reports.

Of the 43 people arrested late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, 34 – or 79 percent – live in Charlotte, the Observer found. Most of the others live elsewhere in North Carolina, including Albemarle, Gastonia and Greensboro. Three others were arrested Thursday night; of those, two were from Charlotte and the third had not been identified by midafternoon Friday.

“I didn’t quote facts,” Todd Walther, spokesman for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police told the Observer on Friday. “It’s speculation. That’s all it was.”

Thursday, Walther told CNN that most of those arrested were not from North Carolina.

He called them “instigators that are coming in from the outside.”

“If you go back and look at some of the arrests that were made last night, I can about say probably 70 percent of those had out-of-state IDs,” said Walther during the TV interview.

The CNN segment has been shared widely on social media and on conservative media outlets.

Friday, Walther acknowledged that his comment was based on conjecture. He said he didn’t review arrest reports before the interview and hasn’t seen them after.

Also Friday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police chief Kerr Putney said he announced a midnight curfew during Thursday night’s peaceful march when his officers learned that a “violent” group of protesters were coming to Charlotte from South Carolina. He did not elaborate.

Reporter Steve Harrison and researcher Maria David contributed.

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Protesters have taken to the streets of Charlotte following the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott on Tuesday. Officials allege a black officer opened fire on Scott after he emerged from his car with a gun in the University City area. Family mem