We almost made it through the summer without the predicted "long, hot summer of discontent" coming to pass. Almost. The last couple of weeks...well, just dammit. Now it's come home to roost in North Carolina.
I'm listening to the Charlotte/Mecklenburg PD feed on my smartphone scanner app. Yes, using 21st Century technology to listen in on one of the oldest entertainments of the human race--rioting and looting. This time a member of a local constabulary (who just happened to be black) shot a black man, possibly for the wrong reason, and predictably, the masses have decided to protest by breaking windows and at last count, looting a drug store, the Epicenter entertainment complex and the Carolina Panthers Stadium (heard it on the scanner, bet that one doesn't get any media play). Reports of "man with a gun" have gotten so prolific that it's not worth the effort to keep up with them, as have the reports of "shots fired". Tear gas has been used. Medic, the Charlotte/Mecklenburg EMT service, is running the wheels off its units.
I would not want to be in Charlotte tonight. I am thankful that Daughter graduated from her university there several years ago and is safely ensconced one room over from where I write this. I am grateful for the comforting weight of the pistol on my hip, even though I'm 70 miles away. No, it isn't a magic talisman, but it sure is a comfort item right now.
The Perversity Factor of the universe is high tonight. We just heard several loud explosions from the direction of the local high school. That is also the direction of one of the local electrical substations, and it's awfully dark up that way. I'm torn between a quick recon and hunkering down right where I am. Hunkering down feels smarter. I'll go with that.
I believe I need to reprogram a scanner tomorrow with some local utility frequencies, though.
Now the call has come in over the scanner--the arson is starting. Small scale stuff, fires in trash cans. That won't last long. It's after 10 PM and the witching hour fast approaches. The Carolina Bobcats arena has apparently been hit and now some roads are being blocked. The police still sound calm and collected--not a sing of panic in anyone's voice, which bodes well. I suspect there are very few CMPD officers not on duty tonight. I hope that they can stay safe as they try to keep some semblance of the peace.
City transit has now been shut down, incoming and outgoing. More fires, this time outside a large hotel--the one we stayed in for Daughter's graduation. For tragi-comic relief, a call about two black females selling marijuana and Ecstasy pills in the riot zone.
We live in Heinlein's Crazy Years, the years of the Fourth Turning. Others opine that we are at the point where the "War Cycle", one I'm not familiar with, is due to heat up soon. They say it will start in North Korea, but tonight if feels like it's North Carolina.
Now officers are meeting a hail of thrown rocks, and a garbled report of a unit "stuck" somewhere. A wreck with entrapment. Walmart is closing and workers request rides/escorts home. I'm encouraged to hear some calls being cleared.
It occurs to me to check the traffic cameras--Charlotte is lousy with the things. The Interstates--85, 77, 485--are unbelievably empty, just a few cars where there should still be hundreds at this hour. It seems that people are sticking close to home. I wonder if travelers have gotten the word that Charlotte is a mini-war zone and have detoured or simply stopped and are waiting for daylight to make a run for it?
Trying to check other local places, the Charlotte Douglas Airport web server is down. Interesting. None of the local colleges or universities have anything on their web sites. Their Twitter feeds have some things, mostly from various individuals venting.
It's now 11 PM and it doesn't seem to be slowing down as far as the volume of calls, but the seriousness of the calls seems to be easing up. This is the first good sign so far. Another good sign is that the individual reported dead is now being reported still alive, but in critical condition. The opportunistic criminals are beginning to take advantage of the PD's near total involvement downtown and are beginning to commit crimes such as armed robbery elsewhere in the city (something else I bet the media won't tell you).
Here's a report of several individuals threatening to go downtown and "fix the protesters". Great Bleeding Ghu, Bubba, put down your beer and think that one through again. Isn't there enough trouble without you and your buddies aggravating things?
Maybe not. There is a report of a large-ish group of motorcycles back by cars moving into downtown. No mention who is driving. Please, not another Klan-Nazi shootout.
Good grief, now we have an "armed to the terror of the public" call. We're using a Jim Crow law to go after black rioters. Jesus wept.
Things were starting to heat back up and bingo, it got quiet. Scanner app could not connect. Checked Broadcastify, they show their feed down by request of the CMPD. I've also tried another scanner app with no luck. So now it's a black hole down there as we get to rely on the media for word of what's going on. I'm sure that's going to work well.
It's going to be a long night for Charlotte.