R.I.P Alton Sterling
Alton Sterling was a 37-year-old Black father of five selling CDs outside of a local store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.1 He did not deserve to die.
Yet here we are again. Another Black man slain by police.Another hashtag carrying the fury and pain of his community. And another family deep in mourning – in the same state that passed the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ bill to silence protests against police violence.2
News just broke that the FBI and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division will be leading an independent investigation into his murder – and we have to keep up the pressure until they deliver accountability.3 Will you sign the petition demanding the Department of Justice bring charges against the two officers that killed Alton Sterling?
On Tuesday night, Alton Sterling was selling CDs outside a local store, like he always does, when police arrived on the scene.The police tased him, held him down on the ground, and shot him in the chest and back. In the witness-recorded video, you can hear the officer shouting “If you f—ing move, I swear to God!”4
The Baton Rouge police pulled a gun out of his pocket after they killed him. However, witness accounts say Sterling was not holding the gun, and his hands were never near his pockets. This is eerily akin to the killing of Eric Garner.5
When Alton Sterling’s aunt, Sandra Sterling, heard about the killing and tried to identify her nephew, the Baton Rouge police – showing no remorse for what they had just done – threatened to taser her too.6These officers have no respect for Black life, and must be held accountable.
It’s no coincidence that Alton Sterling’s murder took place in the same state that signed the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ law designed to feign protection of police instead of actually protecting Black lives – or that Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate across the country.7
In so many ways, Black people are under attack in Louisiana. But an independent investigation by the Department of Justice could mean systemic changes in local policing as well as accountability for Alton Sterling’s killers. When the FBI and DOJ took over the Walter Scott investigation, it led to multiple indictments including a murder charge from the state.8 If thousands of us stand up now, we can make sure the Department of Justice brings charges against Alton Sterling’s murderers too.
Until justice is real,
–Scott, Rashad, Arisha, Clarise, Enchanta and the rest of the ColorOfChange team.
1. “Alton Sterling, Father of Five–One More Black Man Shot Down By American Police,” The Daily Beast,07-06-2016
2. “Louisiana’s ‘Blue Lives Matter’ Law on Cop Killers is Actually Pretty Redundant,” The Huffington Post, 05-25-2016
3. “FBI/DOJ set to take lead on Alton Sterling shooting investigation,” WAFB 9, 07-06-2016
4. “Alton Sterling, Father of Five–One More Black Man Shot Down By American Police,” The Daily Beast,07-06-2016
5. “Beyond the Chokehold: The Path to Eric Garner’s Death,” The New York Times, 06-13-2015
6. “Outrage after video captures white Baton Rouge police officer fatally shooting a black man,” The Washington Post, 07-06-2016
7. “Prisoners in 2014,” Bureau of Justice Statistics, September 2015
8. “Walter Scott family attorney: Federal charges against Michael Slager could be a ‘turning point in history,” The Post and Courier, 05-11-2016