The killing of a black man by a Charlotte police officer, and the sometimes violent protests that followed, have intensified the political divide in a state crucial to deciding whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump wins the presidency, the Associated Press reports. Republicans and Democrats alike say the killing of Keith Lamont Scott will energize both parties’ strongest supporters in a battleground state that also has competitive races for governor and the U.S. Senate. Both camps cite the case as they push arguments on race relations, law enforcement and social unrest. “Both sides think they are right in this,” says Dee Stewart, a Republican consultant in North Carolina. “This all fits very well with Trump’s argument of ‘law and order’ and respecting our officers. It fits with the left’s narrative that anytime law enforcement acts with force in certain communities, it should be viewed with suspicion.”
Even subtle shifts in support can be crucial. Polls show a tight race in a state that Barack Obama barely lost in 2012 after barely winning in 2008. It’s difficult to see how Trump can win the presidency without capturing North Carolina. Scott, 43, was shot Sept. 20 standing outside his vehicle. Police maintain he was armed. Video released by authorities was inconclusive. The officer who shot Scott is also black. Both Trump and Clinton had planned appearances in Charlotte in the days after Scott’s death, but both canceled them. Trump has said little about Scott and the Charlotte protests, beyond calling the situation “tragic.” Clinton has campaigned with Mothers of the Movement, a group of African-American women, some of whose sons have been killed by police.