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Friday, September 23, 2016


NC breaking left?

by Tom Sullivan

Three nights of protests in Charlotte have given new meaning to North Carolina being a battleground state. Other cities across the country have seen large-scale protests against police killings of black men: Ferguson, New York, Baltimore. The list goes on. Now Charlotte joins them. Last night the mayor issued an order for a midnight curfew.

Police insist that Keith Lamont Scott posed “an imminent deadly threat” when officers shot and killed him on Tuesday. After viewing police recordings from the scene yesterday, Scott's family requested police release the footage. But as protesters chanted “Release the tape! Release the tape!” police refused:

Kerr Putney, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief, said that video footage of the encounter did not give “absolute definitive visual evidence that would confirm that a person is pointing a gun,” but he said that the footage and other evidence “supports what we’ve heard” about what happened.


“You shouldn’t expect it to be released,” Putney said during a news briefing Thursday. He added: “Transparency is in the eye of the beholder. … If you think I’m saying we should display a victim’s worst day for public consumption, that is not the transparency I’m speaking of.”
The protests have attracted national attention both from social justice activists and the presidential campaigns:
Charlotte organizers have been holding protests, creating coalitions and leading discussions about police brutality against the African-American community for almost three years, since a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer shot Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed black man who had wrecked his car, in September 2013. But until this week, the violence that erupted in cities across America had not come to Charlotte.

Now, leaders of some of those protests, such as Michael McBride, a California minister who leads the Live Free campaign against mass incarceration, and Traci Blackmon, an organizer of the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Mo., traveled to Charlotte.

Corine Mack, president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP branch, said Thursday that Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, including Chief Kerr Putney, have worked with local groups to build the kind of relationships that could improve treatment of African-Americans and build trust.
Donald Trump blamed the unrest on drugs, telling an audience in Pittsburgh, “If you’re not aware, drugs are a very, very big factor in what you’re watching on television at night.” Trump suggested Thursday he would address violence and black-on-black crime using stop-and-frisk tactics already declared unconstitutional. Trump said of police in a town hall appearance with Sean Hannity:
But, basically, they will -- if they see -- you know, they're proactive and if they see a person possibly with a gun or they think may have a gun, they will see the person and they'll look and they'll take the gun away.
The 2nd Amendment is sacrosanct, but only as it applies to white people. The NRA stuck its fingers in its ears and heard nothing. Today, Trump will be back to warning people it is Hillary Clinton who wants to take their guns.

Hillary Clinton responded to the killing and protests, tweeting:

Politico wonders if the protests in Charlotte could have an effect on North Carolina Republicans' prospects on November 8:

North Carolina political operatives are skeptical that, unless the chaos in Charlotte continues for weeks, the issue will make a substantial dent in the race. But Republicans and some Democrats do say that the dynamic creates an opening for Trump to further shore up and energize the GOP base—something he has struggled to do—predicting voters will respond to his campaign’s law-and-order message and his staunch defense of police, even amid national concerns over institutional police racism. A senior adviser to the Trump campaign said only that Trump had been in the state earlier this week and "we have not yet announced the date of our next trip back to the state."

“I certainly think unrest feeds into Trump’s narrative that ‘America’s falling apart, we need to make America great again,’” said Tom Jensen, a Democratic pollster whose firm is based in North Carolina. “My sense is, most white North Carolinians who would be really repulsed by what’s going on in Charlotte would be in Trump’s camp. I doubt it moves the needle a lot, but the race is just about tied … something like that is never going to move the race by 3 or 4 points, but it can change the race on the margins, and we’re on the margins.”
But one thing that's not obvious from 30,000 feet is that while the protests might help turn out Trump voters in rural North Carolina by a percentage, that's not where the real untapped cache of votes is. Charlotte may be the state's largest city, but Charlotte-Mecklenburg County is the 2nd largest block of registered voters in the state, just behind Wake County (Raleigh). Its voter turnout numbers in recent statewide elections, however, have been anemic, falling below state averages, and ten percent below Wake's in 2014. Sen. Kay Hagan might still be in the United States Senate if Mecklenburg had simply matched average state turnout numbers in 2014.

Because of Mecklenburg's size, it is possible that a large African-American turnout spurred by the shootings and protests could actually help Democrats more than the protests help Trump. In North Carolina's largest city, a percentage or two increase in voter turnout counts for a lot more votes than it does in rural counties. The question is whether Democrats can get their act together enough to turn out voters for Hillary Clinton who actually supports the kind of reform people have taken to the streets to demand. Whether the state goes blue in November might depend on it.