It is not often that one falls asleep to the sounds of flash-bangs crackling in the distance while social media is afire with images and video of your hometown in flames. Yet, this was exactly the situation that unfolded in Uptown Charlotte Tuesday and Wednesday nights, as disgruntled opportunists took advantage of a tragic situation in order to loot and pillage the city. Yet, what was most striking about the ensuing riots was the both the composition of the “demonstrators” and local officials complete impotence in stopping them.
During the height of the riots on Wednesday night, rumors about the demographic makeup of the rioters defacing Uptown swirled amongst local conservative politicos. Many anecdotal accounts claimed that those partaking in the riots were not actually from Charlotte, and that many of them had come in from out of town.
Looking at the Mecklenburg County arrest data for the night of the riots reveals some interesting findings.
Approximately one-third of those arrested Wednesday night for crimes related to the riots were from out of town.
While some of those arrested came from other parts of North Carolina, such as Greensboro and Raleigh, some came in from such distant locales as Daytona Beach, Florida. This lends credence to the idea that many of those responsible for the carnage are not actually residents of the city they are destroying, but rather part of a larger, national collection of people whose only interest is in fomenting chaos.
For all of the talk about “community”, many of those most responsible for the current unrest really have no connection to the community at all.
The other element of the riots that has been overlooked is the total inability of the local government to do anything to stop the rioters. While other city governments have struggled to contain similar riots in places such as Baltimore, the willful refusal of Charlotte’s leaders even to acknowledge the problem is especially jarring.
Earlier on Thursday, a source inside the mayor’s office revealed that Mayor Jennifer Roberts refused assistance from Governor Pat McCrory and the National Guard because it might make her and/or the city look bad. Furthermore, in reviewing the arrest records, very few arrests were recorded before 10:00pm, indicating that the city made very little effort to quell the violence until well after it was out of hand.
The Mayor herself spent much of the evening riding the cable news circuit, as she made clear in a Facebook post.
Part of the reason the riots became so violent is that the city did very little to contain them until it was too late, despite clear signs of the violence from the previous night.
What Charlotte has witnessed over the past few days is quickly becoming a nationwide pattern of opportunists taking advantage of the raw emotions of some locals and the ineptitude of their leaders to wreak havoc and destruction. Many of the most vocal rioters have little or no connection to the communities they terrorize, and the violence only subsides when the local authorities begin to treat it as a criminal and not political matter.
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