Washington, April 9: Do black lives matter, asked horrified Americans as a video showing a white cop in South Carolina shooting a black person running away from him eight times, sparked outrage and fears of another Ferguson.
Protests began in North Charleston, the third-largest city in South Carolina with majority black residents but a largely white police force, shortly after police officer Michael Thomas Slager was charged with the murder of 50-year-old Walter Scott after the video surfaced. [Video of white cop shooting black man sparks outrage in US]The city mayor has also ordered body cameras to be worn by every single officer on the force in the city.
"I have watched the video. And I was sickened by what I saw. And I have not watched it since," Police Chief Eddie Driggers said. [US police officer sacked for killing black man]
Slager claimed the shooting was in self-defence and that Scott, whom he had pulled over for a broken tail light, tried to grab his stun gun.
But the victim's brother Anthony Scott as quoted by CBS said: "I thought that my brother was gunned down like an animal. It was just unbelievable to me to see that."
Scott's mother, Judy, told reporters outside her home that she was "broken" watching her son run on the video, according to the Washington Post.
"We're talking about cameras on the policemen," she said. "It's a shame that you have to do that, because the policemen are supposed to protect us -- we're supposed to be able to trust them."
Meanwhile, the man who videotaped the incident said on MSNBC: "I remember the police had control of the situation. He had control of Scott. And Scott was trying to just get away from the Taser."
"...I think that (Slager) made a bad decision. And you pay for your decisions in this life, I think," Feidin Santana was quoted as saying by CBS.
Santana said he considered deleting the video from his phone and leaving town.
"I felt that my life, with this information, might be in danger," he said.
Protestors who gathered outside the North Charleston city building on Wednesday morning carried "signs and crying chants that became familiar in other cities across the country", the Post reported."We're out here for justice. We're out here because black lives matter," Jeremy Johnson, 21, was quoted as saying.
Like many who showed up to demonstrate, Johnson said he was appalled, but not surprised, by the video of Scott's death, according to the Post.
Racial profiling and police impunity are just the reality for him and other black Americans, he said.
Meanwhile, footage of the incident was replaying endlessly online and on cable news as authorities made frantic efforts to avoid another Ferguson, Missouri.
The killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old by a white police officer in Ferguson last August led to days of unrest, including looting of some Indian-American stores.
Since then, similar incidents in New York, Cleveland and Madison, Wisconsin, have sparked demonstrations and outrage in several cities across America.
In New York, a white police officer was videotaped placing Eric Garner in a chokehold before Garner died, while in Madison another white cop responding to a complaint about a man "yelling and jumping in front of cars" shot dead an unarmed black teen.Police in South Carolina had shot at more than 200 people over the past five years, but only a handful were charged with a crime and none were convicted, according to a report last month in The State newspaper as cited by the Post.