Alton Sterling (1979-2016), a Black American CD seller and father of five, was shot dead by two White police officers in Baton Rouge, the state capital of Louisiana. Sterling had a gun, but from citizen video it is clear that it was in his pocket, not his hand.
This took place at 12.35am Tuesday July 5th 2016 in front of the Triple S Food Mart at the corner of North Foster Drive and Fairfields Avenue, in the Black north side of Baton Rouge. With permission of the shop owner, Abdullah Muflahi, Sterling had been selling CDs there for years, selling all kinds of music. The Fourth of July is a big night for him. A few days before he had started carrying a gun for fear of being robbed. Louisiana law allows people to openly carry guns.
The police arrived after they received a 911 call reporting that a man in a red shirt selling CDs was threatening people with a gun.
Muflahi saw the killing. He said the police “were really aggressive with him from the start” – even though Sterling’s hands were out and he was not holding a gun. They tasered him, but when that had no effect, one of the officers tackled him and threw him to the ground. After both officers had him pinned to the ground, one said something about a gun and then four to six shots were fired. Muflahi did not see Sterling reach for a gun or even see his gun till after he was dead and police pulled it from his pocket. He caught that part on his mobile phone.
Stop the Killing was there too recording it on video. They listen to the police radio and go to incidents that might lead to police brutality.
The police had video from their police cars, from their body cameras and from the Triple S security camera. But instead of making any of it public, they and the press, according to Sterling’s aunt, “twisted” the story to make Sterling “seem like the bad guy.”
The Advocate, the main newspaper in Baton Rouge, did demonize Sterling: they quoted people who knew Sterling as saying he was “not a bad person” – and then quoted his police record back to 1996, stuff that had nothing to do with the shooting.
At 5.00pm, Stop the Killing made their video public. The protest at the Triple S, mainly just Sterling’s family, grew to 200 people, lasting till about 2.00am.
Wednesday morning the police got religion. They named the two officers and the FBI took over the investigation.
Wedneday afternoon Muflahi made his video public.
In 2015 in the US, police killed over a thousand people. In 80% of cases, the names of the killer cops were not made public. In 97% of cases, they were not charged with a crime. They are on track to killing over a thousand people this year too.
The killer cops in this case, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, think the killing was “completely justified.”
– Abagond, 2016.
- Jeremy Mardis – also Louisiana but with the races reversed.
- Eric Garner – seems very much like this case.
- John Crawford – caused by a false 911 call in an open-carry state
- The police
- Black Brute stereotype
- Black Lives Matter
- segregation academies – both police officers went to private Christian high schools that were over 85% White. Baton Rouge is only 41% White.
- Fourth of July