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Protests in Charlotte: What's changed since Keith Lamont Scott's death in 2016?

“After all this is over, and everybody goes back to their regularly scheduled programming, we’re still here because there’s still a lot more work to be done."

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It's the Déjà vu no one wanted has happened in Charlotte, but those who stood on the front lines marching for change four years ago after the officer-involved shooting of Keith Lamont Scott say once the tear gas clears and the smoke fades, there is a valuable opportunity for new seeds to be sown.

Demonstrations lingered long into the night over the weekend. And like the Queen City has seen before, what began as peaceful protests eventually unhinged into unrest.

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“The people in the street are saying, let me get your attention again,” says Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden.

McFadden was in the center of the crowds of people demonstrating four years ago after Keith Lamont Scott was killed by a CMPD officer. McFadden once again found himself in the center of crowds demonstrating about the injustice of the death of George Floyd.

RELATED: Independent autopsy says George Floyd died from 'asphyxiation from sustained pressure'

McFadden says Floyd’s death just aggravates wounds of killings of the past.

“We had a problem back then; we’ve got a problem now,” McFadden says. Did we take care of the problem? Did we listen to the voices of the unheard?”

In the four years since Scott’s death, leaders in the city of Charlotte have created task forces, held meetings, promised money and change.

McFadden says there are still a lot of people who don’t buy it, and to him, that’s the real test of whether the city has changed.

“Some in leadership and in places of authority, we would say yes we have made some progress,” McFadden says. “The other side says no…. So, have we made progress? You ask the store owners, you ask the detention centers, you ask the officers standing in the street now, you ask the business owners cleaning up the glass now. Say, ‘how far have we come from the last time?’”

RELATED: Trump threatens to deploy US military unless states halt violent protests

So WCNC Charlotte asked someone whose organization is proof that progress after pain is possible, Cops and Barbers Founder Shaun “Lucky” Corbett.

Five years ago, after teenager Mike Brown was killed by an officer in Ferguson, Missouri, Corbett decided to be the change he wanted to see in Charlotte.

“We need each other,” Corbett says. “It’s all hands on deck. This is not a separation thing. In order to get what we all desire, which is true freedom, true justice, true peace, it has to be a collective effort.”

Corbett’s organization provides scholarships to the youth in the community, offering them a chance to go to barber school. 

He recently became the first black-owned business owner to open a barbershop inside a Walmart.

“There were a lot of organizations that picked up the baton and we ran with it, and we are continuing to run with it,” Corbett says.

As Corbett reflects on the events that transpired in Charlotte and across the country over the weekend, he says he worries that the people most impacted will be forgotten.

“We get caught up in the moment but that pain lasts forever for them,” he says.

But Corbett says, he does have a bit of hope this time. Corbett says both the people he has talked to who are so upset over the Floyd killing, and the police officers he knows as well, have all agreed that what happened to Floyd never should have happened. He sees an opportunity to build on that shared belief. But to do that, people from both sides have to keep showing up.

“After all this is over, and everybody goes back to their regularly scheduled programming, we’re still here," Corbett said. "Because there’s still a lot more work to be done."

RELATED: Real-Time Updates: Protests in Charlotte continue for fourth day

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