Today I awoke to the cries and wails of a frustrated public after news broke that yet another Black man was gunned down extra-judiciously by police officers. The video taken by a bystander is as unnerving as it is frustrating.
According to reports, 37-year-old father of five Alton Sterling was selling CDs outside of a convenience store in Baton Rouge. The police department says Sterling was approached after they got a call around midnight from someone who stated a black male with a red shirt, and who was selling CDs, threatened them with a gun.
The Baton Rouge Police Department states that Sterling was approached in the parking lot of the Trip S Food Market were a struggle ensued and Sterling was shot dead. Normally, news outlets rely on the police department to furnish them the information they need to report officer involved incidents.
However, the modern marvel of miniaturized cameras affords anyone the ability to record incidents of excessive force and place them on the internet for millions to view and judge for themselves.
As was the case in the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Mike Brown and a morbid multitude of others, there will certainly be individuals from major media outlets who will say that this is an isolated incident, that Sterling was complicit in his own death and that officers were simply doing their job.
This video helps solidify the view that Black males are more likely to be approached aggressively, racially profiled and to be shot dead by the police.
According to scores of nonprofit journalism think-tanks and university studies, African American males are far more likely to be shot by the police – whether they’re armed or not. Yet, the establishment will say that this was an unfortunate consequence of policing in high crime areas. But I would be derelict in not mentioning that racism and racial profiling are in the very DNA of every police department in the United States dating back to the 18th century.
Thus far over in 2016, 558 people have been killed by law enforcement in America. Of that total, 135 were Black and 267 were White. But Blacks make up around 13 percent of the U.S. population while Whites make up around 65 percent. Even a rudimentary understanding of mathematics would alert one to the nature of this phenomenon.
Last year, 1,134 people were shot dead by the police in the U.S. According to a study by the Guardian, approximately 20 percent of them were unarmed. Additionally, Black males are nine times more likely to be killed by police than Whites.
Police officers are protected by very powerful police unions, racially and socially apathetic district attorneys, impudent politicians, and a vocal and active minority of card-carrying racists.
Though the police officers that took the life of Alton Sterling have been placed on leave, history says that very little will happen to them.
In the video, we see two officers approach Sterling with their guns drawn.
They command him to get on the ground, but he does not. One officer is said to have used a taser but it is difficult to discern from the video. Sterling is then tackled to the ground while the two officers attempt to restrain him.
One of the officers yells ‘Gun, gun!’ and his partner draws his weapon and points it at Sterling’s chest – just inches away. He can be heard saying ‘You f*cking move, I swear to God. Don’t f*ck with me!’ Sterling can be heard pleading ‘Please!’ before the camera panned away and shots were fired into his torso at point blank range.
It should be noted that Louisiana is an open carry state, but many outlets have omitted this.
Abdul Muflahi, who owns the supermarket and witnessed the incident, told reporters that a gun was recovered at the scene. From the camera it is easy to see Sterling’s left arm was being controlled by one officer while the other is obscured. However, anyone can see that Sterling was in no position to pull anything and a witness told the Advocate that he did not appear to be reaching for his pockets. Yet, the official narrative will likely pound the “gun” angle like a railroad spike.
Baton Rouge is now in the midst of outrage and turmoil as protesters take to the street.