Scott’s death, the latest high profile police killing of an unarmed black man, has inspired violent riots throughout Charlotte—but in McCrory’s first address to the public since the shooting on Thursday, the former Charlotte mayor didn’t even mention Scott’s name. Instead, he pleaded to the national audience as if trying to salvage the city’s tourism industry and reputation as one of the best places to live in the country. “Charlotte is a great place...We’re not going to let a few hours give a negative impact on the city,” he said, adding that he hoped to “get back to normal times of welcoming and peace and prosperity.”
McCrory, who once (before his turn as a transphobic bathroom bill-promoting governor) had a reputation as one of Charlotte’s most beloved and affable mayors, could not have seemed more out of touch. The protesters that took to the streets on Wednesday night don’t believe Scott’s death represents merely a few hours of darkness in what is otherwise an idyllic place, nor do they want to return to “normal times”—they want to see radical political change.
Regardless of whether or not Scott pointed a gun at the police (which dashcam video was unable to confirm), McCrory did not reach out to protestors or to Scott’s family. Instead, he spoke about redirecting state and national resources to support the Charlotte police. This is not enough. By treating events like Scott’s death or the protests that followed as minor blemishes, rather than structural problems, McCrory is hoping that these issues will recede to the background again. But while the National Guard might be able to break up protests with tear gas temporarily, McCrory will have a difficult time quelling long-term discontent in his hometown if he doesn’t address the shooting head-on.