(Reuters) - Sunday's National Football League game in Charlotte between the Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings will go ahead as planned despite two nights of violent protests in North Carolina's largest city, the league said on Thursday.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency during Wednesday night's rioting, sparked after Keith Scott, 43, was shot dead the previous day by a black police officer outside a Charlotte apartment complex.
"We are planning to play the game as scheduled on Sunday," the league said in a statement.
"We are monitoring events in Charlotte and have been in communication with local officials and authorities, and both the Carolina Panthers and the Minnesota Vikings."
One man was critically wounded by a gunshot during Wednesday's rioting, and at least eight more civilians and four police officers were injured and 44 people arrested for charges ranging from assault to failure to disperse.
Many of the protesters dispute the official account of Scott's death. Police contend that he was carrying a gun when he approached officers and ignored repeated orders to drop it.
Scott's family and a witness have said he was holding a book, not a firearm, when he was killed.
Carolina Panthers president Danny Morrison said in a statement: "We are in contact with government officials, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the NFL.
"We are continuing to monitor events as we prepare for Sunday's home game."
NEWTON WEIGHS IN
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, a three-times Pro Bowl selection, on Wednesday weighed in on Scott's shooting and the topic of social justice.
"I'm a firm a believer of justice. I'm a firm believer of doing the right thing," Newton told reporters.
"And I can't repeat it enough of just holding people accountable ... I am not happy with what or how the justice has been kind of dealt with over the years.
"The police brutality ... it's embarrassing to even talk about. When you sit up here and list the names, it's crazy to even think about how did this even happen and how do police who take a leave absence and still get paid."
Several NFL players have raised fists or knelt during pre-game performances of the U.S. national anthem this season, a protest started by San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the preseason.
Kaepernick was the first player to make a public gesture against injustice and police brutality when he refused to stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner", a policy he has continued in recent weeks.
Controversial fatal police shootings of black men across the United States have sparked more than two years of protests asserting racial bias and excessive force by police and giving rise to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Scott's killing was the 214th of a black person by U.S. police this year out of an overall total of 821, according to Mapping Police Violence, an anti-police violence group created out of the protest movement.
There is no national-level government data on police shootings.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Andrew Both)