Charlotte mayor under intense heat in aftermath of riots and shooting deaths

Senate Leader Berger demands action as public calls for resignations at volatile city council meeting

CHARLOTTE — Criticism is growing of how Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts’ handled last week’s protests and the investigation into Keith Lamont Scott’s shooting death. On Wednesday, Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) demanded that the mayor release police videos of the shooting, accusing her secrecy and attempting to deflect responsibility for the chaos. “Let me be clear — Mayor Jennifer Roberts has a moral obligation to the citizens of Charlotte to release all police videos related to the Keith Scott incident immediately,” said Berger. “First she botched her city’s response to last week’s riots — from initially brushing off Governor Pat McCrory’s multiple offers of state resources, like the National Guard, to ignoring repeated calls from her community and the press for transparency and answers.” His comments follow an angry Charlotte city council meeting on Monday where more than 100 people packed the meeting room calling for Roberts’ resignation and that of police chief Kerr Putney. Some of the demonstrators refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the meeting, others heckling and chanting. The public comment period went on for two hours as the mayor called for quiet in the group several times.”You don’t deserve to be mayor of this fine city,” said Charlotte resident Henry Lee to Roberts in the meeting. “You are on the verge bringing this city to its knees.”Over the weekend, Roberts called to reverse the body camera laws passed by the Republican-led General Assembly last year. The statewide body camera law would allow citizens to petition a judge to force release of police body camera footage, even if the local authorities refuse or only release part of it, as the Charlotte police did last week. The law is due to take effect Oct. 1, but Roberts said in an op-ed in the Charlotte Observer that implementation should be stopped because it would hurt the city’s efforts “earning back the trust of communities that for too long have been underserved and mistreated.””Is she afraid she will be sued and forced to release the videos, as the law will make possible? Without it in place, she can continue to stonewall and keep videos secret from the public,” said Berger. “Her complete failure in leadership illustrates the exact problem the law was designed to address: helping safeguard against when politicians like Jennifer Roberts make the wrong call like refusing to release all police footage related to this incident to the public. If she is really concerned about transparency, she can and should release all videos — right now.”The controversy over her body camera comments and the Scott shooting may cause a rift in the democratic front lines as Attorney General Roy Cooper, who supported the bill and Roberts, looks toward the rapidly approaching gubernatorial election.”Roy Cooper should join me in calling on Mayor Roberts to release all police videos related to the Keith Scott case and denounce her foolish argument against a law he supports that was designed to keep politicians like her accountable,” said Berger.Roberts has drawn other criticism from those who said the State of Emergency and subsequent curfew were called too late after riots caused damage to businesses, led to 44 arrests and claimed the life of Justin Carr, who was shot in the head during the riot. Police have charged 21-year-old Rayquan Borum in connection with the shooting. Justin Carr was laid to rest at noon on Wednesday at Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church in Charlotte.