The NASCAR Hall of Fame and the NASCAR Tower in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina were among businesses damaged by protesters Wednesday night after peaceful demonstrations over a police involved shooting turned violent.
The 150,000 square foot Hall of Fame, which houses NASCAR memorabilia, exhibits and displays for inductees, is near the epicenter of confrontations between protesters and police that occurred Wednesday evening. The unrest began Tuesday after Keith Lamont Scott, 43, was fatally shot by police. The officer who shot him, Brentley Vinson, 26, is also black.
Thursday morning the damage to the Hall appeared to be minor, and local media reported that looters did not gain entrance into the building. The only visible damage to the Hall was a street sign that was seen jutting out a window of the Hall’s news center near the main entrance.
— Matthew Dillner (@MatthewDillner) September 22, 2016
Nearby, the NASCAR Tower, a 20-story office building that serves as the home of Hall of Fame-related offices, NASCAR Digital Media, NASCAR’s licensing division, NASCAR video game licensee Dusenberry Martin Racing as well as the Charlotte Observer and other tenants, had windows on the bottom floor busted out. When the violence began remaining employees were told to stay in the building.
— Justine Miller (@JustineIMiller) September 22, 2016
Looters did not appear to have gained entrance to either facility; however, local media reported that a group had gained entry to a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant that sits adjunct to the Hall. Bottles on tables inside were used to smash windows. Thursday morning tables inside the restaurant were seen scattered around.
Other businesses around College and Trade streets in the EpiCentre entertainment complex in the heart of the city’s uptown, reported smashed facades and looted merchandise. One person was shot during the protests and was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Police used tear gas to disperse the protesters.
Late Wednesday, the States’ Governor, Pat McCrory, declared a state of emergency in the city and deployed the National Guard and State Highway Patrol troopers to assist local law enforcement.
Early Thursday morning the streets were calm with a heavy police presence. All the businesses are expected to be closed Thursday.
An official with the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority said early Thursday they were working to assess damage to the building, the adjacent convention center, and the EpiCentre entertainment complex . Early Thursday morning the CRVA released a statement:
“The events that have transpired over the last 48 hours have been incredibly difficult for our community. We continue to keep open lines of communication with the City, CMPD and our partners to monitor the latest developments. The damage at our CRVA venues consists of broken exterior windows at the Charlotte Convention Center and NASCAR Hall of Fame and a breach that took place at one of our tenant spaces at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Buffalo Wild Wings.
We do have events scheduled to take place in the Charlotte Convention Center and NASCAR Hall of Fame today and in the coming days. The safety of these meeting attendees who have traveled significant distances to convene in Charlotte is especially important to us and we’re working to take appropriate security precautions in collaboration with our partners at CMPD. We’ll continue to assess and communicate with our partners throughout the day.”
NASCAR is scheduled to run races at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in nearby Concord in just over two weeks. The fall races normally attract many out of town fans who visit local race shops and racing themed attractions in addition to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
— Gina Esposito (@GinaWSOC9) September 22, 2016
Update from the NASCAR Hall of Fame: pic.twitter.com/6lnGRP11tn
— NASCAR Hall of Fame (@NASCARHall) September 22, 2016