The internet has raised awareness of police brutality through its rapid dissemination of information and viral videos. The videos are absolutely wrenching to witness, but they expose the corrupt nature of some law enforcement officers. From New Hampshire to Texas to Florida to Maryland to Ohio and even Oklahoma, no corner of the United States remains immune.
Now Louisiana has made the news in this horrific way, although this story hasn’t reached the mainstream yet. First, a few numbers can help with context. The Guardian claims that 557 people have been killed by police in the United States this year. If that figure is accurate, number 558 arrived with Alton Sterling very early Tuesday morning.
The Advocate reports that Sterling was shot and killed by an officer after “some type of altercation” in Baton Rouge. Sterling was reportedly a normal, CD-selling citizen standing outside a convenience store. A witness noted that Sterling was armed, but never moved for his weapon, and “aggressive” law enforcement responded to an anonymous caller before all hell broke loose. Sterling reportedly died from multiple shots to his chest and back:
A 48-second cellphone video captured by a bystander – which circulated at a protest about the shooting later in the day – shows an officer firing at least one round into a man’s chest outside what appears to be the Triple S store, followed by the sound of at least four more shots as the camera veers away.
“Get on the ground! Get on the ground!” an officer is heard yelling in the beginning of the clip.
In the clip, officers wrestle with Sterling against a car before yanking him to the ground. Sterling’s right arm isn’t visible, but officers hold down his left arm. Then this happens:
“He’s got a gun! Gun,” an officer says, prompting the lawman closest to the camera to draw an object from his holster. “You f*cking move, I swear to God,” says an officer, before the second officer, farther from the viewer, is seen pointing a weapon down at the man’s chest. There’s a flash from that officer’s weapon, accompanied by the sound of shots.
From there, witnesses are overheard freaking out over Sterling being shot, and the entire clip is very graphic. The convenience shop owner, Abdullah Muflahi, told Maya Lau of The Advocate how Sterling had a gun in his pocket, but never withdrew the weapon.
After news of this death, protesters gathered in Baton Rouge on Tuesday night. They chanted, “No justice, no peace.”
One Twitter user quickly remarked how often “history repeats itself.”
Another person has an idea about why you haven’t seen Sterling on CNN yet.
Samira Wiley from OITNB implores you to “say his name.”
And the tributes continue, both online and on location in Baton Rouge.