While, early on, it was reported that most of the protesters were locals seeking change within their own community, it seems that's no longer the case.
As the violence continued Wednesday night, a Charlotte police spokesperson told CNN that the majority of those arrested were not locals but were, in fact, from out of state.
In an interview with CNN's Erin Burnett, Todd Walther, the spokesman for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police, explained:
"I'm not saying all the people, but we've got the instigators that are coming in from the outside. They were coming in on buses from out of state.
If you go back and look at some of the arrests that were made last night, I can about say probably 70% of those had out-of-state IDs. They're not coming from Charlotte."
"This is not Charlotte that's out here. These are outside entities that are coming in and causing these problems.
These are not protestors, these are criminals."
Such individuals — who have been referred to as “agitators” by police — focus more on destruction than peaceful protests, and it's not the first time they've been tied to demonstrations like those in Charlotte.
These claims of “outside entities” also closely echo those that emerged amidst the Ferguson protests in 2014:
Just as in Charlotte, fires, violence, and looting also erupted during the Ferguson protests over the shooting of Michael Brown. At the time, many also believed that “out of town professional protesters” were traveling to Ferguson from afar and “inciting violence.”
After a review of police records, NPR reported that many of those arrested during the Ferguson protests were also, in fact, not locals:
"In fact, of the 51 people who were arrested Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, only one person was from Ferguson.
The rest were from surrounding towns and faraway cities such as Des Moines, Iowa, Chicago and New York."
Just as in Ferguson and Baton Rouge, though, it's important to note that not all of the Charlotte protesters are violent, and many have voiced their frustrations in a peaceful way.
This seemed to be the case on Thursday night Charlotte, as protests reportedly remained mostly peaceful throughout the evening. That reality could be owed to the presence of the National Guard and the city-wide curfew that had been put in place — all efforts to gain control of an out-of-control situation.