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Scarletwood

Scarletwood station

The Scarletwood Riots were a civil disturbance that occurred in Nos Astra, Illium, in response to the clearing of Nos Astra police officers of charged resulting from the shooting of a civilian suspect. Rioting occurred primarily in the Cold Claw slum district of the city, but the popular media named the event after the police shooting, which took place outside the Scarletwood maglev train station.

Background

As on many worlds at the time, tensions surrounding Illium's salarian population and corporate enterprises were high following the destruction of the city of Entish on the salarian homeworld Sur'Kesh by a group opposing the traditional authority of the dalatrasses in the Union. The public threat to conduct more such attacks, and the apparently extensive covert influence of those responsible, led to a degree of suspicion being cast on all pro-democracy salarian groups. Additionally, given that Entish was destroyed by a nanotech-based device, Illium's Board of Governors enacted Emergency Nanotech Provision 122, imposing a significant extra burden of scrutiny and regulation on nanotech production by firms connected to the Annos Basin; ENP122 was branded discriminatory and anti-fair trade by some, and was later cited as an additional cause of tension between salarians and city officials. Several acts of vandalism and public protest were recorded, both in support and opposition to the 'salarian rights issue'.

Scarletwood shooting

Events reached a head when members of Nos Astra Police Department's Task Force Redoubt, formed in response to the Entish crisis, pursued and shot dead Olir Welus, a salarian civilian, in a chase ending in the forecourt of the Scarletwood maglev station. Officers were on high alert due to a "credible threat" the previous evening of an immanent salarian-related terrorist strike on the city's central Goddess Gate station, and NAPD later reported that Welus had been the subject of a "strong identification" made by officers at the scene as he neared Scarletwood, intending to board a train bound for Goddess Gate. Witnesses reported that Welus was aware of his pursuers and was chased some distance prior to the shooting, but it remained unclear whether the pursuing officers had properly identified themselves to Welus, or whether those nearest him were in uniform at the time.

The NAPD began a full inquiry into the matter, which Illium's Justice Directorate supported in response to public criticism, although Welus's innocence was later confirmed by officials. There was extensive unrest on the issue in Illium's virtual legislatures, while Vosari Negavit, the head of the Salarian Union high commission on Illium, accused the officers involved of acting purely on the basis of Welus's species, gunning him down simply because he fled from unidentified and openly armed people converging on him. With former members of the Eclipse corporation having been accepted into the NAPD following the events of the Siege of Illium , it was suggested that they, or officers they had influenced, had exercised deadly force without proper verification of their suspect's identity or intentions.

Verdict and rioting

Following several weeks of hearings the board of inquiry returned a verdict of 'no case to answer' with regard to the three officers primarily under investigation (identified only as S1, S2 and S3 in official documentation), stating that they had acted properly given the information available to them at the time, and referring criticism of the NAPD's overall response policy to a separate inquest still underway. Protests immediately arose from civil rights groups, as well as advocates on both sides of the salarian issue, the most vehement accusing the NAPD and Justice Directorate of engineering a whitewash hearing to save face while literally permitting its officers to get away with murder. A number of peaceful protest gatherings took place, while debate in the virtual legislatures of Nos Astra and the colony as a whole was fierce.

These were almost immediately overshadowed though by the outbreak of violence in Cold Claw district, an area of Nos Astra widely regarded as a slum, home to primarily batarians and humans with a high proportion of indentured workers. Protesters destroyed public surveillance equipment and injured several NAPD officers responding to specific complaints before Security Case Silver was declared and a perimeter was formed around the affected area of Cold Claw. Unnamed sources accused Enark Maska, a former Blue Suns operative turned 'reconciliation activist' who claimed minority species on Illium were subject to systematic prejudice from the ruling 'old Council' asari, salarian, and turian elite, had engineered the rioting, using the Scarletwood verdict as a pretext for violence.

Justice Directorate released a statement promising a rapid resolution with a minimum of collateral damage, and spent much of the night conducting an on-site review, while peaceful gatherings elsewhere in the city were dispersed and sent home under Case Silver emergency powers. Early next morning NAPD units moved into the contested district, and civilian resistance quickly crumbled, although one rioter made an attempt to ram a pacification unit with a hotwired skycar; thanks to an advance perimete of crowd control mechs, only one officer was injured, and later recovered. Enark Maska was not among the many arrests, and a bounty for information on his whereabouts was posted.

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