Residents packed the Charlotte City Council meeting Monday night, to talk about the police killing of Keith Scott. Zianna Oliphant delivered a tearful plea to elected representatives. Credit: Charlotte City Council
IT’S the speech all of America needed to hear.
It wasn’t delivered by a polished politician or a celebrity advocating for change.
Instead, it was a little girl who bravely delivered line after line of a message that left her with tears rolling down her cheeks and her audience in awe.
Zianna Oliphant, 9, was almost too small to reach the microphone inside the packed Charlotte City Council meeting on Monday night.
The meeting was held less than a week after police shot and killed Kieth Lamont Scott. Scott, 43, was reportedly standing with his hands by his side when police opened fire at an apartment complex.
Police had been called to a separate disturbance when they saw Scott sitting in a vehicle rolling a marijuana joint. Police say he made a threatening movement with a gun but his family says he was reading a book.
Protests against the treatment of black people in America followed for a week, resulting in a curfew, a state of emergency and mass hysteria. Caught up in the fear are children. Children like Zianna.
“I’m here today to talk about how I feel,” she started.
“I feel like that we are treated differently than other people and I don’t like how we’re treated just because of our colour.”
She continued through tears as those in audience urged her: “Do not stop”.
“We are black people and we shouldn’t have to feel like this. We shouldn’t have to protest because y’all are treating us wrong. We do this because we need to and we have rights.
“I’ve been born and raised in Charlotte and I never felt this way until now. I can’t stand how we’re treated. It’s a shame that our fathers and mothers are killed and we can’t see them anymore.
“It’s a shame that we have to go to their graveyard and bury them … that we have tears and we shouldn’t have tears. We need our fathers and mothers to be by our side.”
Scott’s death is the latest in a series of police shootings. Dashboard camera footage of the incident starts with the officers pointing their guns at Scott, who is inside his truck with the doors closed and windows rolled up.
Scott gets out and starts walking backward before shots are fired. From a different angle, police body camera footage shows an officer approach with his gun drawn and another officer already pointing his gun at Scott.
When Scott comes into view, he has his hands at his side and is standing outside of his SUV. The body camera footage doesn’t show the moment the shots are fired, and Scott next comes into view already on the ground.
Police also released photos showing what they say was a handgun and marijuana that were in Scott’s possession.