By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - Members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Thursday marched on the Justice Department following recurring civil unrest over the police-involved shooting of a black man in North Carolina earlier in the week.
The dozen-plus members delivered a letter addressed to Attorney General Loretta Lynch that demands an aggressive investigation of “any and all law enforcement officers who harm or kill innocent, unarmed black men, women and children.”
Speaking at a news conference before they departed for the agency, New York congressman Gregory Meeks said the caucus feels the frustration of those in Charlotte and Tulsa -- pointing to two recent flashpoints.
"No American should have to fear the people that are sworn to protect them," he said.
The lawmakers reportedly did not walk the full six-block route from the Capitol to the Justice Department but instead boarded a bus that dropped them off two blocks away.
Demonstrations turned violent for a second night in Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city Wednesday, following the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
Wildly divergent narratives over the fatal incident have helped fuel the protests. Police say that Scott, 43, was holding a gun and refused to drop it after being order to do so, prompting officers to open fire. But Scott’s family says that the man was holding a book.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said during a press conference that the department would present to Scott’s family the video of the incident in which he said does not show Scott pointing the firearm at anyone.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said the State Bureau of Investigation would conduct an independent investigation the shooting, stressing that a few hours of unrest should not tarnish Charlotte's reputation.
Lynch said her department would send help to Charlotte, but stopped short of pledging a federal investigation into the shooting.
“I know that the events of recent days are painfully unclear and they call out for answers,” Lynch said. “But I also know that the answer will not be found in the violence of recent days.
“I urge those responsible for bringing violence to these demonstrations to stop,” she added, “because you’re drowning out the voices of commitment and change.”
Basketball legend Michael Jordan, who owns the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, expressed his condolences to Scott’s family, and urged demonstrators to protest peaceably.
“In light of the tragic events of the past three days, it is more important than ever that we restore calm and come together, as a community, in peaceful demonstration and conversation, and in constructive and non-violent ways," he said.